Reviews

Downtown Boys
Cost of Living

(Sub Pop)

8/10

If you’re particularly invested in harmonic vocals and gentle soundscapes, turn away now. Otherwise, strap in. Providence’s Downtown Boys are back with their third album, and ‘Cost of Living’ is a fierce offering that takes aim at fascism, queerphobia, capitalism, and racism in a howl of cathartic energy. On the surface, the record seems to be straightforward meat-and-potatoes DIY punk. But let’s revise our understanding of ‘melody’. It’s there. The guitar riffs and arrangements on ‘Violent Complicity’ and the shimmering, Joy Division-style ‘Lips That Bite’ are proof of that, and worth the price of admission on their own.

Elsewhere, the band pick up the trail left by punk and hardcore greats before them. They cite influences including The Clash and Wire, but on tracks like ‘It Can’t Wait’ producer Guy Picciotto’s Fugazi heritage shines through.

Underneath the wailing, split-lip vocals is a crispness that defines the record, turning the frenzy into something more than just musical rebellion. That said, ‘Cost of Living’ still manages to push back against the status quo at every turn. By the Downtown Boys’ own admission they’re aiming to topple ‘white-cis-het-hegemony’ using Chicana, queer and latinx voices. This is never clearer than on the anguished, Spanish language ‘Tonta’ that, with its frantic sax section, is entirely unlike anything else other records this year have to offer.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support the costs of what we do (the printing and server fees, the podcast and video production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for is a recurring payment of £3 per month for UK subscribers. If you really start to hate it you can cancel at any time. The same goes for European subscriptions (£6 per month) and the rest of the world (£8 per month).

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door, and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.