Downtown Boys – Cost of Living

Album Review by Ed Bottomley | 04 Aug 2017
  • Downtown Boys – Cost of Living
Album title: Cost of Living
Artist: Downtown Boys
Label: Sub Pop
Release date: 11 Aug

Some music has a mission to shake you awake. With the righteous thrash and playful bilingual polemic of 2015’s Full Communism, Providence’s Downtown Boys stirred enough excitement to propel themselves to a larger label and a producer of great eminence in Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto.  

Dialing down some of the hardcore and d-beat elements of their last LP, Cost of Living moves towards steadier, cleaner arrangements of lean guitars, drums and bass with the familiar tenor saxophone and synthesizer for extra colour. In doing, Downtown Boys allow ample space for frontwoman Victoria Ruiz’ commanding, strident sloganeering to shine through, louder and clearer than ever.

Drawing inspiration from activist Assata Shakur’s poem I Believe in Living, Ruiz not only alludes to the absurdity of the latest in US immigration policy ('A wall is just a wall, and nothing more at all'), but in her dedication to the take-down of racism, homophobia, patriarchy, and other general bullshit, she’s carved a joyful and furious niche. Although there’s a clarity and confidence in the slower pace of Lips That Bite and the darker post-punk textures of Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas) (translating roughly as 'We’re Elegant/Intelligent (We’re Not Dumb)') – sensing that Downtown Boys are capable of ever greater ferocity, you just want to urge them on even further.

Listen to: A Wall, Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas), Lips That Bite