It’s been almost eleven years since we last heard from Hamilton punk four-piece, The Inflation Kills, and it seems they haven’t found much to raise their spirits in the interim. Cheery vignettes from their latest EP include a world void of purpose and commitment, the motto that “rejection is close to triumph” and the reassurance that if you “turn up dead at least [your] mind won’t know.” The band’s core sound largely eschews the wired fuzz of bassist David O’Connor’s main group TV Freaks, as well as the hollowed-out doom of frontman Phil Williams’ previous math-rock project Kitchens & Bathrooms. Instead, The Inflation Kills use a much more melodic punk chug, with a stripped-down production job that rather suits the band’s barren outlook.
While the band might describe themselves as “discordant and angular” on their Bandcamp, there’s nothing here that would scare off anyone who grew up listening to so-called ‘alternative’ music from the ‘90s. The discordant riffs that open up the first two tracks, for example, soon give way to barrelling guitar and drum fills, and the chorus of “Dead Girls” is their most anthemic offering yet. One particular highlight is the penultimate track “Rejection,” which is bookended by the band’s usual driving tempos, but morphs into a building post-rock jam midway through. Less memorable is the vocal-less “Saskatoon,” which aptly demonstrates why instrumental punk has never become a thing — straightforward power chords take centre stage without any major diversions to keep it interesting.
The majority of the album feels claustrophobic, as the distortion and tar-soaked basslines often leave no empty space behind. While this would hinder many a fresh-faced indie band, this actually complements The Inflation Kill’s noisy tales of desperation and destitution, where there is no escape, and no way out. So positive vibes be damned, this is the sound of a band who likes nothing more than going down with the ship.