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Album Review: MSPAINT Burn Down Any Notions on “Post-American”

From the dark depths of the deep South in Mississippi comes a revolutionizing new act. Drummer Quinn Mackey, bassist Randy Riley, synth player Nick Panella and vocalist Deedee make up the band MSPAINT. They hail from Hattiesburg, a college town, providing a tiny beacon of hope among the desolate cultural abyss that surrounds them. A strong connection to their local scene and a rejection of the typical hardcore structure that they lived in has culminated in their debut album “Post-American.” 

The band formed out of fatigue for the rigid structure of hardcore that so many bands find themselves entrenched in. MSPAINT wanted something new and fresh with their experience inside their local scene. So, other than Mackey on drums, each member picked up a role they hadn’t tried before. With these new roles they experimented too, creating an abrasive synth-punk sound: a genre they like to call “post-modeM.” 

Image via The Fader

“Post-American” contains many blaring, ripping synth drones accompanied by shredding, fuzzed out bass lines that together tear open vistas of rich soundscapes. The often-intense drumming shifts patterns between a taut roboticism and frantic humanist flow. Dissonant chiming synthesizer leads overlay these sounds.  

Songs like “Information” have blistering punk flows, while songs like the title track have thick, sludging grooves. Even among the frequent chaos on this record there are fleeting moments of tranquility like in the closing track “Flowers From Concrete.” Roaring out above all these sounds are vocalist Deedee’s pungent shouts. 

Image via Bandsintown

Many of the lyrics on the album contain the modern day’s turbulent and harsh socioeconomic political topics. Lines like “Killers in the street, they appoint to keep us afraid,” and “Burn all the flags and the symbols of man” reflect this. The album’s frequent imagery of wastelands pairs well with the heavy industrial sound. Despite this, Deedee never succumbs to nihilism, but instead touts hopefulness. He makes the point that, despite everything falling around us, we can still strive for a brighter future. 

Deedee has a very harsh, barking vocal performance characterized by staccato shouting, though it doesn’t feel overtly aggressive. He does this in breakneck speed. Many lines across the eleven tracks are very catchy. However, this style can feel stale as he rarely changes his presentation. The dynamism of the instrumentation, though, makes up for this stagnation. The song “Acid” is good example of this constant movement. Between the two verses, it becomes less noisy, leaving space for an echoey, oscillating synth part and a more pronounced bass. 

Image via Stereogum

Comparisons can easily be made with current hardcore bands like Militarie Gun, and Soul Glo, who both have members featured on this album. But that comparison is too easy and doesn’t fully encapsulate MSPAINT’s sound. Where the band has hardcore and punk elements in its roots, it more so embraces an internet glitchcore inspired sound that artists like Computerwife and Full Body 2 have used in their latest releases. This defines their identity much better than the general hardcore explanation could. 

“Post-American” showcases MSPAINT’s unique sound by successfully trying something new. Along with this are electric and energetic songs that give an exhilarating listening experience, and sow seeds of a revolutionary fervor. “Post-American” is out now on Convulse Records. You can listen to it on MSPAINT’s Bandcamp