Drug Church - Cheer (Cover Artwork)

Drug Church

Cheer (2018)

pure noise records

Drug Church are back with their third full-length, Cheer. It’s their first LP for Pure Noise, and the record packs a cleverly balanced punch of offbeat melody and hardcore punk antagonism.

The record has a dark quirkiness in tone, offering music that plays on the absurd. Take Cheer’s fourth track, “Conflict Minded,” a song that mixes sounds akin to The Jesus Lizard and At the Drive-In, for example. The song moves dynamically from an austere and static-laden hardcore delivery to a closure that slows the tempo down with a haunting bass line led by somber but engaging vocals. And the entire track comes off totally cohesive and compelling.

Admittedly, vocalist Patrick Kindlon tends to swim in the more idiosyncratic end of the punk rock pool and one need look no further than his other band, Self-Defense Family, as evidence. Regardless, Drug Church offers a diverse palette of musical stylings even within their own sound. “Unlicensed Guidance Counselor,” the LP’s six the song, is a driving punk song that brings out elements of Lifter Puller and the late-90s Gainesville sound. The track is certainly more directly delivered than others on the record, but it has that melodically aggressive feel captured by many a No Idea Records band. There’s a sandpaper sort of catchiness to Kindlon’s lyrics and vocal pattern throughout the song that at once tells a story and offers plenty of anthematic sing-alongs.

One of the standouts on Cheer has to be “Strong References.” Here, Kindlon's lyrical content seems to really play on some of the more ridiculous aspects of vanity. The music has an equally offbeat quality as the guitars mix heavy chugging riffs with a whimsical lead that makes for a great complement to Kindlon’s vocals. As the mid-tempo rhythms give way to a driving and heavy bridge, the song moves to its closure having offered the listener some deceptively catchy music. The song that follows, “Dollar Story,” draws on similar elements and strikes with similarly impressive execution.

Frankly, this is the story for much of Cheer. It's a really good record. And Drug Church have been around for a minute now, but they’ve been playing out more often this year. That’s a great thing. Their sound allows them to play a wide palette of shows, and their music is a great departure from the typical. Cheer is yet another thoughtful and well-written offering from the band. The record is engaging from start to finish, and their ingenuitive sound is still heavy enough to satisfy almost all ends of the hardcore punk spectrum. A strong cohesive LP indeed.