Downtown Boys: Cost of Living – album review
Downtown Boys: Cost of Living (Sub Pop)
LP | CD | DL
Bilingual sax punks Downtown Boys tell us they’re here to “topple the white-cis-het hegemony and draft a new history”. Listening to their provocatively boisterous new album, Cost of Living, Cassie Fox wants to roll up her sleeves and give them a hand pushing.
The targets in Downtown Boys’ crosshairs are clear: “racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism, boredom, and all things people use to try to close our minds, eyes and hearts”. The tracks on Cost of Living use commanding sloganeering, driving grooves, and catchy sax riffs to cook up one of the most apposite records of the present-day.
This is the third album from the Providence, RI band, and the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed Full Communism from 2015. Released on Sub Pop, but with production by Fugazi/Rites of Spring’s Guy Picciotto, lending a Dischord sound – a touch of the Nation of Ullysses about it.
The effervescent opener, ‘A Wall’, has lyrics drawn from Assata Shakur’s poem “I believe in living“, and Sonic Youth style delivery. The song calls out Trump with a joyful resistance.
‘Promissory Note’ is an unapologetic bird-flip to the band’s censurers: “So what’s the matter, you don’t like what you see? / I can’t believe you’re even talking to me!”
‘Somos Chulas’ (‘We are cool’) is one of three songs on the album sung primarily in Spanish and it’s a banger.
‘Lips That Bite’ is my favourite track on the album, largely due to the rollicking sax instrumental, over some unexpected synth.
Downtown Boys are best served live. Victoria Ruiz is mesmerising in her performance, and the band’s energetic shows are joyful, entertaining and inspirational. True story: when they played in London in 2015, three friends in the audience were so inspired that they formed their own sax punk band on the spot – and my band GUTTFULL was born.
Downtown Boys are currently touring Europe with several UK dates coming up: catch them if you can.
11/10: Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
12/10: Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
13/10: Edinburgh, UK @ Sneaky Pete’s
14/10: Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
16/10: Dublin, Ireland @ The Workman’s Club
17/10: Liverpool, UK @ The Shipping Forecast
18/10: London, UK @ Dome Tufnell Park
19/10: Sheffield, UK @ Picture House Social Club
20/10: Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
21/10: Bristol, UK @ Simple Things Festival
22/10: Birmingham, UK @ All Years Leaving Festival