Whatever Brains: S/T (2015; 4th LP) 12"
On this, the Whatever Brains' fourth and final full-length, the band continues tilting at the windmills of punk’s aesthetic myopia and the United States’ gradual political unraveling, and it’s as musically and lyrically brilliant as ever. The Brains continue to exploit their knack for combining rhythmic complexity with big, melodic hooks, but the vibe here is less frantic than their previous releases. They are now able to ride an EDM-influenced groove or wallow in a sax-drenched psych jam for much longer than the ADD-addled songwriting style of their earlier records would have allowed. There’s no small degree of provocation in the fact that the Brains take their most ambitious work and plaster the word “PUNK” across it in giant letters. I still haven’t figured out whether this gesture is an homage or an indictment, but forcing myself to square my definition of punk with Whatever Brains’ combination of lyrical sincerity and musical nihilism has been one of the chief pleasures of following this band.