PROTOMARTYR – THE AGENT INTELLECT
As you’d expect of a band from the Motor City, The Agent Intellect is unashamedly heavy, distorted Detroit Rock, with more than a little of the British post-punk sound of bands like The Fall and Joy Division mixed in.
Whilst their previous album tackled the dingy, corrupt habits of Michigan’s most populous city, Protomartyr now turn their gaze to loftier matters such as religion and mortality. The guitars gothically growl over militarily rhythmic drumming, but what allows Protomartyr to stand out from other post-punk is how tender they can get. Joe Casey does himself a disservice when he describes his act as “30 minutes of a fat guy yelling at you”, as his voice, with the unpolished depth of Ian Curtis or Shane MacGowan, has an amazingly expressive voice for such a deep vocal range.
The climax and obvious highlight of the album is penultimate track ‘Ellen’, a chilling ballad addressed from Casey’s dead father to his mother. The six minute song showcases a beauty and complexity the band has only hinted at before, a direction in which Protomartyr hopefully allow themselves to continue.