Merchandise, “After the End”

merchandise_after-the-endMerchandise
After the End
4AD
7/10

Those who have had the fortune to track Merchandise’s short, yet prolific professional career over the past several years have experienced exulting pathos through eleven-minute “Become What You Are” (off 2012’s Children of Desire) and the pleading, chaotic harshness of 2013’s Total Nite. On After the End, the songs are more concise and grounded in form, but beyond that, the band’s working punk formula doesn’t seem far altered. Vocalist Carson Cox keeps up his yearnings with lyrics always larger-than-life, masked under a thick veil of optimism. Highlight tracks “Telephone,” “Green Lady,” and “Little Killer” utilize upbeat Smiths-ian riffs and steady classic-rock quips, while the heart of the record lies in-between as slower songs that seep out melancholic tone but in effect merely offer pauses of reflection, moments’ breaths. After the End holds itself in deserved esteem, beautifully mastered, and like all great art, less understood through words than experience.

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