Thursday 29 June 2023

Review of ‘Post-American’ by MSPAINT

Mississippi band MSPAINT make hip-hop-infused hardcore punk with synths – which is every bit as fun and unique as it sounds.

Hardcore is going through a bit of an experimental phase at the moment. Bands like The Armed have been getting super-noisy, while bands like Turnstile have been incorporating elements of dreampop. MSPAINT are the latest addition to the alternative hardcore scene. Their four-piece lineup consists of vocals, drums, bass guitar and synths. They’ve been called a ‘synth-punk’ band, but I don’t think that label does them justice.

Named after everyone’s favourite Microsoft program (well, except maybe Full Tilt! Pinball), MSPAINT have taken this digital technology theme and have inserted it into every track on their debut album Post-American. Tracks are filed under titles like ‘Information’, ‘Delete It’ and ‘Hardwired’ (not a Metallica cover), while many of the synth riffs have retro video game vibes (‘Think It Through’ totally sounds like it could be in an old Zelda game). The frontman’s vocal delivery even takes on a robotic flow on ‘S3’. Combined with post-apocalyptic lyrical themes, it feels like the perfect soundtrack to 2023 in which AI seems to be on the brink of an Skynet-style uprising (they can solve CAPTCHAS now!).

Meanwhile, the hooks on this record have all the infectiousness of a computer virus. The ‘hardwiiiired to your brain, to your brain, to your brain’ hook of Hardwired does exactly what it’s describing. And the ‘I-I-I’ part of ‘Delete It’ has buried itself deep in my neocortex where it cannot be deleted. The steady pummelling synth riffs help to hammer home the hooks, but I think it’s mainly DeeDee’s super rhythmic delivery that makes the hooks so catchy. In fact, at times, it’s almost like he's doing Beastie-Boys-style rapping.

There are other glimpses of hop hop influence throughout such as the hi-hats of ‘Free From The Sun’ which help give these hardcore tracks a unique sense of groove. While the tracks are still very aggressive, they don’t feel like your average mosh anthems and have more of a bounce to them. In some ways, as experimental as their sound is, it feels like a more accessible version of hardcore (although I still wouldn’t expect to hear any of these tunes on the radio on any time soon).