I think maybe I’m losing it because something keeps pulling me back to these Sub Pop releases. Well, they are on a quest for “world domination,” as they’ve stated, and even though in recent years they’ve lost some big-name indie acts like Fleet Foxes and No Age, and put out a really crappy album by Wolf Parade, they still seem a vitally active imprint with a roster that is nothing if not well-rounded. Plus, these things are all so cutely packaged — what a funny album title.
Perhaps not coincidentally, The Gotobeds in Debt Begins at 30 have compiled what’s probably the best thing on Sub Pop I’ve heard since Beach House’s Thank Your Lucky Stars, and have done so by basically being a least common denominator of other dominant acts that have come before. Eli Kasan sounds like basically an exact cross between Paul McCartney singing “Helter Skelter” and No Age’s Dean Allen Spunt, which indeed of course places him competently within the realm of doomsday punk rock, as I imagine were his objective. The grooves this band lays down roughly approximate The Libertines with a slight proclivity to palm muting a la Seaweed and the drum fills of The New Pornographers’ more energetic sessions. Ultimately, this is meant as complimentary.
Though nobody would probably call this music “revolutionary” or “vanguard,” the Pittsburgh band (who I don’t think give their hometown enough credit, by the way, probably as a way of cheap ingratiating humor of course) do find enough track-to-track variation to render Debt Begins at 30 listenable. “Slang Words” ups the ante in speed and intensity and lets on they’ve been doing their homework in the form of Iceage’s You’re Nothing. On “2:15,” then, the band nixes the loud guitars, in favor of a methodical but off-kilter drum beat and bass ambience, creating more of a tense, predatorily prospective mood, refreshingly enough. They sound a lot like The Dirty Nil but seem to be having enough fun doing that for now (the Sub Pop record deal probably didn’t hurt them in that department).
“Poor People Are Revolting” then unveils a snarky sense of humor and some well-controlled feedback. Unfortunately, the groove on this song is a lazy Throwing Muses rehash and the lead singer can’t seem to want to decide if he’s funny or angry, so he hedges his bets as neither. But then, it seems pretty much every punk band is doing that these days (Priests, the 1975, et. al.), and not that that makes it right, but maybe if anything they’ll blend in better when Carl Newman comes to claim their wayward souls.