Comadre has always been a band that has defied classification, and thus always been labeled by everyone. Before becoming familiar with the band I've heard them called everything from hardcore to screamo to emo revivalist and even skramz. In an attempt to avoid lazy listening (or just misuse of a genre), I tried to avoid any such comparisons when I first heard the band and tried only to use non-genre comparisons. The only terms I could come up with was, "a mess." Comadre was fast, sporadic and angry. It all just seemed like a giant mess, but over time the mess began to make sense, with the intensity opening up to great hooks and melodies that range from fist-pounding to danceable. All of this and more is encapsulated in their most recent effort, A Wolf Ticket.
At just eight tracks and under 14 minutes it may seem strange to dissect A Wolf Ticket into smaller sections, but the album does lend itself to a division. The first half seems to embrace less conventional (even by Comadre standards) styles and methods. The opener, "Hamlets" is a bare-bones production, opening with dual guitars and drums before exploding with the shout of "This is it" and continuing with only drums, distorted vocals and feedback. It sets the stage for the seamless jump into "Tannerisms," which holds the most traditional song structure of the first four tracks, with the classic Comadre screams and call-and-response lyrics between lead vocalist Jaun Gabe and the rest of the band. Rounding out the first half are the combined "Viva Hate Pt. 1" and "Viva Hate Pt. 2," two separate tracks that flow together seamlessly and only clock in at 2:16. The tracks are a great pairing, with "Viva Hate Pt. 1" starting slowly, with a repeated selection of vocals and a near-march drumbeat that erupts into an avalanche of guitar and drums, before breaking into a full-speed sprint for "Viva Hate Pt. 2," all climaxing in a shoving match of instruments and styles as vocalist Gabe repeats, "How's this for a breakdown baby," closing out the volatile and unique first half.
The second half of A Wolf Ticket plays much more like a standard EP and even features the interlude/intro of "Word Is Bond," which sounds like the band tuning up over clips from a gangster film I can not quite identify. Following the brief intermission is possibly one of Comadre's best and most catchy songs, "Grow Worms." The track opens like a dance track, with a solid snare beat and upbeat guitar strokes, before Gabe comes in screaming, "Same shit but not amused. Give us a way to fight these hardcore blues." From there the song launches into a place that lies somewhere between dance and hardcore, as if the two genres had a drunken hookup on prom night and had to discard the offspring before they went off to college. "King Jeremey" follows with what is arguably Comadre's most accessible song. The track is relatively slow and long by Comadre standards, clocking in at almost three minutes, but has such a strong buildup to the shout-along of, "Division, communism, I am missin', the whole point," that it's easy to see why it's become a staple of their live set. The closer, "Suicides May Have Been Pact" starts blasting with energy and breakneck speed but about halfway through everything shifts and like a train that has blown its engine, the track slows to a roll. Just when it seems like the train has derailed and lost its course, the track comes in with the exact inverse of the guitar and drumbeat that opens A Wolf Ticket, closing what might have been an otherwise disjointed release and showing the forethought that Comadre puts into their music.
For as unique as Comadre is, they aren't afraid to show their influences. One can easily pick out elements from bands such as Refused and Kid Dynamite on A Wolf Ticket. However, relentless energy, diverse lyrical content and delivery and the ability and willingness to blend genres and styles have made this band, and this release, more than the sum of its influences. I still don't know, nor do I wish to venture a guess, into what genre this album would fall. I can say it's fast, loud, angry, contemplative, diverse, spastic, snarky, tight and intricate. It's all these buzzwords and more, but really it's Comadre, and you'd be wise to not try and classify it and just shut up and enjoy it.