Radioactivity - Silent Kill (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Silent Kill (2015)

Dirtnap Records

For well over a decade now, be it with the Marked Men, the Potential Johns, or now Radioactivity, Jeff Burke has been penning poppy garage hits at a rate of which most songwriters can only daydream forlornly. Helming some of the most influential bands going in the garage punk scene, he and Mark Ryan, another man trusted to write a mighty song, are a punk rock holy union -- separate they are formidable, yet when their powers converge theirs is a partnership through which special things happen. Silent Kill is their second album under the Radioactivity flag with help from members of Bad Sports, and while it is more of the same in terms of style and quality, a somewhat darker tone lingers under its melodious exterior.

Burke has stated in interview that his goal on Silent Kill was to experiment with creating poppy punk with melodies that weren’t of the typical pop fray, and this goal is evident in the album’s sound. While many of the songs are not overtly overflowing with the sonic equivalent of sunshine and rainbows, Silent Kill never strays far from a certain pop sensibility. The end product is an album that feels like an album moreso than a collection of songs -- a certain morose mood binds the twelve tracks represented, lending Silent Kill an emotional depth too often lacking from this style of music.

For those familiar with Burke’s previous bands, it is known what to expect -- grinding guitars, a lo-fi yet vibrant sound combining the Ramones with the Jam, and drums highlighted by the frenetic tittering of the hi-hat. But this familiarity is not a negative, as there is a warmth to Burke’s songwriting and a hard-to-place uniqueness to his craft and delivery that no other group is able to duplicate. The more jubilant offerings found on Silent Kill, including “I Know”, “Not Here”, and “Silent Kill” scratch the itch many pop punk fans harbor, while the more moody songs “Way Out”, “No Connection” and “Where I Come From” display more somber depths. Album opener “Battered” is a rocking, angular jam, with “No Alarm” following in much the same style, instilling vital energy to the collection. Over the course of Silent Kill’s lean run time, a range of emotions and moods are explored, yet the tracks remain cohesive under Burke’s indelible style.

There’s still more awesome to come out of Denton, Texas. Silent Kill is but the latest testament to a prolific yet consistently great songwriter and his most trusted cohorts doing what they do best. Fans of the Dirtnap sound will not be disappointed.