The Upshot: Though deliberately less political and more personal than the upstate New York punks’ previous outings, there’s no shortage of righteous, anthemic defiance amid the emotional debris.
BY FRED MILLS
When we last checked in on Hudson Valley-area rockers the Last Conspirators, punk-fueled songwriting partners Tim Livingston (vocals) and Nick Bisanz (guitars) were still kicking against the pricks with as much vim, vigor and velocity as Joe Strummer in his Clash heyday, and 2013’s A Celebration of Fury was with a doubt the most appropriately-titled record of that year. The dynamic dup is now back with an equally powerful platter that’s at once more nuanced and sonically textured than its predecessor. Hold That Thought Forever isn’t short of fury, mind you, for “nuanced” doesn’t connote “mellowed out”—far from it.
Opening track “Perfect Lovers in a Complicated World” maintains its Ground Zero punk allegiances, bringing to mind a cross between Stiff Little Fingers, Eddie & the Hot Rods, and, yes, The Only Band That Matters. Livingston’s lyrical concerns are exactingly telegraphed in that title, while Bisanz’s concise riffs strike just the right balance between serrated and tuneful, with the deft rhythm section of Al Kash and Mike Grundy turning out to be the song’s—and, as the album unfolds, the band’s—secret weapon. Elsewhere, in the soul/garage epic that is “Addiction,” Livingston outlines a Pandora’s Box of vice, a note of apprehension lining the usual swagger in his voice, as his bandmates circle restlessly behind him before the inevitable build-up and release. And both “Alright” (a snarling, bluesy stomp) and “Blow Away the Sky” (anthemic and rocking, and guaranteed to please your inner Blue Oyster Cult and MC5 fan) maintain a purposeful pace while never forgetting to inject the necessary dynamics at all the right cathartic moments.
Livingston has noted that this record’s deliberately less political and more personal than the last one, and that comes through loud and clear. The album’s no less defiant and, in places, caged-animal wounded, though. Sometimes the politics of the heart are the most challenging of all, eh?
DOWNLOAD: “Blow Away the Sky,” “Addiction,” “Alright”