Sarcasm Creeping Life 12”

The SARCASM tape—already half-a-decade old, I’m alarmed to read—and 2017 EP were glorious artefacts of their type, bare-brick rhythm-first punk that was somehow both punishingly direct and gnomically elusive. You didn’t expect or want this band to “progress,” whatever that means, and they haven’t exactly done that on Creeping Life (one of its six songs, “Digital Colony,” also appeared on the demo), but I just don’t see how their sound could get more platonically ideal than this. It’s not DESPERATE BICYCLES UK DIY or BAUHAUS goth or FLUX anarcho or GANG OF FOUR post-punk or even INSTITUTE updates on any combo of those things, but trace elements of each float around like the algal scum Luke McGuire sings about. His lyrics are neither reductive slogans or indulgent poetry, but use repetition really smartly and deploy imagery that haunts. I’m only half-sure what “Blinding scream, locked-in gaze / Creeping, breaking, a furious haze” is about (nuclear paranoia?), but damn if it doesn’t sound like deep shit when he intones it. All that, and bassist Alexandra Graves is still probably SARCASM’s M.V.P., in that their songs sound like they build from the basslines up.