At this point in their career, the Coathangers have explored every possible dimension of garage punk, from Riot grrrl snark to gritty blues-fueled anthems. It’s almost hard to believe the band has toyed with conceptions of punk for 10 years, and even more so that they continue to find new ground within the inherent limitations of a genre which has roots in the mid-’60s.
Last year’s Nosebleed Weekend was yet another step in the band’s evolution. The Los Angeles-inspired album found the band sounding sunny more than spiky. They embraced slower songs and shied away from the slaphappy chaos which made them famous, but as much as I enjoyed the record I wondered what the band would do next. If California dreaming was the future of the Coathangers, would their next record settle comfortably into Vivian Girls radio pop? What would become of their instinctively crass rhymes and bare-knuckle aggression? When the band dropped the video for “Parasite” and announced plans for an upcoming EP of the same name, it was clear that the band hadn’t gone soft, yet what wasn’t apparent was how the band intended on recreating itself for 2017. “Parasite” sounded like something hot off their 2009 album Scramble, but despite the energy, it felt redundant.
Enter their newest track, “Captain’s Dead.” Much like “Parasite” it doesn’t reinvent the band, but instead pulls from the smarter cuts off Nosebleed Weekend. The crafty swagger of the new track feels more appropriate for the veteran trio, but the band stirs up the track a touch of vulgarity (“You’re out on a treasure hunt, you’re acting like a little cunt”), simply because they can. Garage punk may just be a formula for the Coathangers in 2017, but even if they know exactly what to put in the test tubes, they’ll still probably blow up the lab, and hopefully the upcoming EP will be better for it.
Parasite is out June 16 via Suicide Squeeze Records. Pre-orders are available here.