The Death Set – Michel Poiccard : Album Reviews
Seventeen tracks, spread out over a mere 36 minutes, plenty of crashing cymbals, drum fills and guitar fuzz, and an f-bomb is dropped in the first five seconds – sounds like pretty standard, meat-and-potatoes punk rock, right? Can’t you can already imagine a sweaty circle pit gaining momentum?
And yet, while every song seemingly begins and ends in the blink of an eye and a barrage of shouted choruses, there’s definitely much more under the bonnet. The Death Set firmly occupy the more self-aware, I-hesitate-to-say-hipsterish end of the pop-punk scale – rather than Minor Threat, think the irreverence of early Beastie Boys, with a copy of Pro Tools in their back pocket.
With the death of original band member, Beau Velasco in 2009, The Death Set would have been forgiven if this release was a sludgy, maudlin mess. But instead, they’ve chosen to turn this Michel Poiccard into a raucous wake for their fallen comrade. It’s still kind of a mess – the album’s opener, Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap has a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks mentality, with squelchy keyboards overlaid with a murky spoken-word loop – but it’s a really fun mess. The record comes at you at with a stream of “whoa-ohs” and synth and distortion-pedal vocals, only slowing down ever-so-slightly for the genuinely heartfelt tribute track I Miss You Beau Velasco, and a brief audio clip, a snippet of story told by the late musician.
Then it’s right back to the mayhem – the second half of the album adds some hip-hop-esque drum loops, some surprise assists from Spank Rock and Diplo, and even some kitten-based turntablism. No, I don’t know what that means, either. The album’s closer, Is It The End Again, is one last tribute to Velasco, a reminiscence of journeys’ past that rounds off the album very sweetly. On balance, Michel Poiccard is snotty, trashy, fun punk rock first and foremost, with a good heart lurking underneath. So start your circle pit and then have a good cry afterwards.