SPECIAL INTEREST have returned with their sophomore LP. A dual release from Night School (EU) and Thrilling Living (US), The Passion Of combines elements of glam rock and no wave pushed through a mangled filter of contemporary electronic forms. SPECIAL INTEREST present a precise and deranged vision of punk, an apocalyptic celebration, a step forward into a perverse and uncertain landscape.
Our take: Special Interest is a band I’ve had my eye on for a while, and with The Passion of they have made an extraordinary record. Special Interest played here in Raleigh a while back and I wasn’t able to make it to the gig, but it seemed like everyone in town had a Special Interest shirt after that show, so I figured they must have been incredible live. I checked out their first 12” and I thought it was good… I liked the vibe and I thought their approach was original, but it never clicked with me. The Passion of, however, is a different story. Wow, what a record! Special Interest’s transition from that first LP to this one new reminds me of Ratka’s evolution from their third album to Falha Comum; suddenly they’ve fully realized their sound, catapulting from muted grays into full, vivid color. Special Interest’s sonic ingredients remain consistent throughout: pulsing drum machines, noodly live bass, noisy synths / electronics and passionately wailed vocals. However, Special Interest does so many things with this set of ingredients over the course of The Passion of. If you replaced the pounding mechanical rhythms with Penny Rimbaud’s marching band snare, the album’s first track, “Disco III,” would sound like something from Stations of the Crass; it has similar seasick bass work, ranting vocals, and repetitive, monochromatic, but still catchy structure. The first time I played this track I could not sit still, and it’s only gotten more exciting with each subsequent listen. From there, “Kiss Me in Public” has the avant-garde dance sensibility of Metal Box-era Public Image, Ltd, “All Tomorrow’s Carry” has the soft-focus melodic quality of Total Control or Low Life, and “Passion” is an uncharacteristically delicate homage to Klaus Schulze and early Tangerine Dream. Every track stands apart and there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. The only bad thing about The Passion of is that it makes me miss live shows… I want to dance to this music in a sweaty basement with all of my friends. Still, this is one of 2020’s most essential records.