The Detachment Kit – Of This Blood

The Detachment Kit
Of This Blood

I’ve never been particularly fond of Les Savy Fav. This, of course, doesn’t help The Detachment Kit’s infamous streak of drawing LSF references in the first paragraph of their album reviews, but it does allow for a nifty intro to this review. I’ve long thought that the Fav have gotten by on a reputation for crazy live shows, and while I don’t doubt the band’s ability to bring it live, I’ve always felt that they’ve never sounded like anything more than an average post-punk band when they’re pressed to wax. So regardless of the similarities between DK and LSF, it’s fair to say that I couldn’t really care less about any common ground the bands cover.

Detachment Kit’s new album, Of This Blood, manages to eclipse the Kit’s debut’s predictable, boring nature, and quite frankly, there’s enough raw talent here for me to get real excited about a band that previously had given me no reason to. The band’s biggest problem, therefore, has shifted from MOR post-punk to maddening inconsistency.

Of This Blood starts off extremely strong. “Night of My Death” is a beautiful intro, blending soft horn flourishes with a clean acoustic guitar pick. “Skyscrapers,” however, is where the musicians really makes their hay. Opening with a killer guitar riff that is punctuated by martial drum stabs, the band quickly jumps to a chirpy, scratching chord progression and then back to glorious thrashing. Lead singer Ian Menard sings in a captivating shout: “No-oh-oh / No you’ll never die,” screaming the line over and over, while the guitars churn in romantic agreement. It’s the kind of ass-kicking, hopelessly gorgeous punk moment that makes you think these guys could hang with the big boys: A less self-conscious At the Drive-In, a more serious Archers of Loaf.

Unfortunately, the rest of the sophomore album fails to live up to the promise. “Pill Cake” is the band’s most pure pop moment, and sadly, the only one. It’s a playful, bass-drive track that steals the show from the middle of the album. “Ted the Electric” summons enough wiry punk conviction to make it a worthwhile contender, and “Vanish or Vanquish” is tortured art-rock at its best: full of hissy, bleating guitars and sinister vocals.

Despite the highlights, some of the tracks are inexcusable. “Ricochet” and “Chronology,” which have the misfortune of being sequenced next to each other, are middling, down-tempo whiners. Without the arty/ridiculous cover art, these songs could fit on just about any emo album to come out in the last few years. The second half of the album is so indistinguishable that even after repeated listens, individual tracks and moments rarely distinguish themselves. Everything seems harder than their weak moments, but never as dynamic as their best. “Music for Strobelights” is a fair Pixies rip, but ultimately fails to live up to its nifty title.

I’d like to think I’m doing DK somewhat of a favor by not comparing them to a certain said band. Really, the band has earned it: There are enough inspired moments on Of This Blood to suggest that DK could turn into a punishing post-punk powerhouse, or at the very least a challenging off-kilter pop troupe. Until the musicians master their impulses however, I’m afraid their records will come off as inconsistent and just disappointing enough to express grief over what might have been.