Classics of Love - Classics of Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Classics of Love

Classics of Love (2012)

Asian Man

"I think a lot about the powers that be," Jesse Michaels dryly announced to the audience at a recent concert in Santa Cruz, Calif. "I fucking hate them." On Classics of Love's self-titled LP, Michaels makes that sentiment in the most direct and energetic way of his entire career.

Immediately noticeable is the hardcore influence of the record where San Jose's the Hard Girls, the band's instrumental section, jack up their own attack and blaze through the album in a tight 23 minutes. Michaels has stated that it's not a hardcore record per se, but in nearly every track, the angular slashing and rapid clipping of bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Poison Idea are evident. At some points, the LP kicks so hard it seems to reference Discharge.

While not every song is a thrasher, not once does Michaels or the band let up on the cracking. On "Dissolve" the bands rips through the minute-long song in raw furor, both heard in Michaels' throaty scream and the band's raw riffs. Yet, on "Band Stand" the band even gives third wave ska a spin (sort of). "Moving Pictures" has just a taste of Black Sabbath low end twisting. Yet, between it all, the youthful spirit of early hardcore permeates the genre flipping, highlighting both the music's optimism and pessimism.

This contrast has never been more evident in Michaels' lyrics. In a recent interview he stated that he was happier than he's been in a long time, yet the entire album is filled with a litany of grievances, from poor gun control laws to big banks stealing bailout money to the vast divide between the poor and the rich. But, in part due to the album's raw energy, these admonishments don't come across as whining, but rather, as targets to be attacked.

The album ends with the call to arms "We Need a Change," where Michaels, in the spirit of early punk, demands that the youth make a change. By dwelling not on the negatives, the band has made something singularly positive.