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Review: Publicist UK’s Forgive Yourself is New Wave Updated with Punch, Power and Attitude

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When you lift your rhythm section from Revocation and Municipal Waste you raise certain expectations. Anyone anticipating some heady form of thrashing death couldn’t be blamed but also couldn’t be more wrong. Publicist UK’s other two ingredients – guitarist David Obuchowski and vocalist Zachary Lipez – had different ideas that led to a wholly atypical approach to heaviness. Welcome to an old sound called new wave, updated with punch and power and an attitude that sets fire to all expectations and gets high off the ashes.

At the risk of sounding like a broken non-metal record, I’ll mention that Forgive Yourself is not a proper metal album in the savage dig-through-flesh-and-firmament-with-speed-and-distortion sense, but don’t be fooled into believing that Publicist UK have lobbed up a softball. Forgive Yourself revels in a buzzing bottom end that gets to call itself heavy without qualification. The band’s chosen style situates itself somewhere between the despondent synth sway of LowCityRain and the marginally grittier Amesoeurs record. There are some sublime post-y elements buried under the surface, as if Explosions in the Sky signed on as a backing band. The sonic/emotional (though not musical) effect is similar to what Soen accomplished on Tellurian and Cognitive – an engagingly heavy album that largely eschews overt aggression and stretches out toward more delicate forms of auditory expression.

At least half the reason to listen to Forgive Yourself lies in its lyrics. If it was considered ethically sound to give over this entire review to reprinting the lyrics, I’d do it. Every word is indispensable, nothing falls flat, and Lipez delivers the lines like a more belligerent Michael Gira. “Cowards” leads the record admirably by throwing all the album’s varied components into one song, “Blood Relative” and “I Wish You’d Never Gone to School” hold up the center of the album with their midpaced undulation, and closing pair “You Are the Stars” and “Away” refuse to let the album’s back end dip even slightly in quality.

I did not immediately love Forgive Yourself. The first spin didn’t grab me and shout, “I’m awesome!” A couple plays later I came around, hard. If you’re thinking of giving Publicist UK some of your time, then commit to it. If it grows on you, it will absolutely take over.

Forgive Yourself is out now on Relapse Records. Listen to the full album at Bandcamp, order physical copies here and the digital version here

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