I never understood Protomartyr’s comparisons to the Stooges either. Maybe it was because of singer Joe Casey’s stage demeanour: more disenfranchised blue collar worker than the freaky sex alien of Iggy Pop. Or – more likely – maybe it was because I came to the band via an album that I presumed was their debut but wasn’t, and by the time Protomartyr started to breakthrough in the UK with Under Color of Official Right in 2014 they were on their way to emulating The Fall and Pere Ubu so well. But there was an album before, and as 2012’s No Passion All Technique is finally re-pressed for the first time, those comparisons to the Stooges make a little more sense beyond the two groups sharing Detroit as a home.
Here the band have a messier, more one-track garage sound, and, naturally, boring things like production value are on the more primitive and muddy side too, as you’d expect from a punk band starting out on a label called Urinal Cake. But in tracks like ‘How He Lived After He Died’ (a spooky football chant of a song) and the cruising ‘3 Swallows’ it’s startling how close the band’s hidden melodies were to evolving from day one. Plus, ‘Jumbo’s’ – a groove about the band’s neighbourhood drinking den of the same name – remains one of the best songs they’ve ever written. Yeah, Protomartyr were always the best post-punk band around, even when they weren’t yet.
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