The third and most recent release from The Retakes, Trash, is a four song EP continuing in the Pixies-inspired tradition of their previous releases, an August 2015 split with Gramma and 2014’s Girl. While their music might wear its love for the Pixies on its sleeve, the Minneapolis four piece shows more than enough individuality and creative force to distinguish themselves as much more than imitators. Their influences, as well, never forbid them from messing with an assortment of styles and every song is recorded with a completely live quality that sounds like all four members simultaneously facing off against one another. There’s a lot of punk rock’s rambunctious, middle fingers flying attitude in these songs, but there’s plenty more, and Trash is a fantastic example of four musicians making the most of this genre as a songwriting vehicle.
“Trash” blows out the speakers with its romping guitar attack. This is a go for the throat punk rock assault, but coursing through its slashing chords is substantive hard-boiled songwriting that never comes off forced or posed. Like any great punk rock band, The Retakes understand that keeping things short and essential is the key to pleasing their audience. There are no added frills here, no hollow virtuoso trips. The Retakes play as a unit and take your scalp off. They reveal some of their Pixies influence with the album’s second song “Monkey (He Speaks His Mind)”. The restrained, moodier atmosphere is contrasted well against brief full on punk passages, but what makes this work so well is the nuance creeping into their music. The twin guitars of Miles Halverson and Casey Norman prove their capacity to play off one another while flawlessly shifting into trademark punk slashing at any moment.
“Junk” has a skewed, heavily distorted pop bounce that starts off at a jangle before erupting. The verses rein everything in to a simple loping bass line and Halverson’s slightly whiny, laconic voice. The choruses are disjointed, but improbably melodic. There’s some surprising distorted voiceover thrown in on the song’s second half, but it fits in with the slightly hallucinatory, woozy air surrounding the track as a whole. The album’s final track, “Ginsberg”, opens with a recording of the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg reading the opening of his famous poem “America” before Evan Floyd’s drums enter the mix. The band soon takes over and the throat-shredding vocals howl out in tribute to Ginsberg. The lyrics are in firm sympathy with the writer’s work rather than mocking it. Once again, the band serves up the same half-berserk, wide eyed ferocity powering the EP’s opener and it embodies the best of the genre without ever pandering to the lowest common denominator.
The Retakes carry on in the great tradition of Minneapolis alternative music in two key ways – they creatively invoke the past while still burning with a highly unique personal spirit in keeping with the iconic acts who have came before. There’s a surprising diversity of mood to their songwriting on Trash that many of their peers simply do not embrace.
9 out of 10 stars.