Being from Massachusetts has its perks. Okay, I wouldn’t really know what that is like since I live in Michigan – a totally different place altogether. But living in the metaphorical shadow of a band like A Wilhelm Scream has probably rubbed off in one way or another on No Trigger, a band who in their roughly decade-long existence hasn’t released much for us to delve into in terms of full-on albums. That being said, the punk quintet’s second full-length Tycoon is a doozy, chock-full of relentless energy soaked in melody and honest-as-fuck lyricism. Regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the band’s first LP, Tycoon is an undeniable force of punk rock excellence from one of the genre’s often overlooked gems, setting the bar high for anyone and anything trying to make a lasting impression in 2012.
Recorded by Jay Maas, guitarist for ‘Chusetts-based Defeater, Tycoon is a tour-de-force from front to back as it barely lets up during the 11 tracks contained here. “Maple Boy” sets the pace, opening with addictive yet gritty melodies that morph into palm-mute-tinged guitar lines to back vocalist Tom Rheault’s mildly raspy, although heavily passionate voice. While certainly not as technical or blistering as aurally possible, the catch and release nature of these licks – both vocal and instrumental – make this disc tough to forget. “Dried Piss” ups the punx with a slightly tougher vibe hovering over the breakneck drumming and catchy chord structure that spikes the mood with a healthy dose of mild aggression. Yet even with this swerve, the overall mood isn’t ruined, as “Checkmate” brings us one of the catchier, uplifting choruses of the disc (‘Say it like you mean it, I will not be defeated!’), while “Mountaineer” climbs a less dense melodic front and turns the infectious meter to its max, creating something even the not-so-punk kids can get into.
The musicianship isn’t all punk chordage and amped up backbeats, with “New Brains” giving us a slightly atmospheric introduction ripe with strung out guitars and toned down drumming before bursting into the usual fare. The mid-tempo sections of the disc also hit just as hard (“Skyscrapers”), sounding more like a pop band on steroids with all the hooks and catchy-as-fuck melodies seeping from these moments. “Turn In My Throat” is a perfect closer, bringing finality – both musically and emotionally – to the disc with its drawn out drum-led outro, a live show-like ending to the album.
In a musical landscape currently infatuating itself with emotionally charged pop-punk, No Trigger’s Tycoon has brought a sense of brash urgency to the currently saturated sound, practically trumping almost everything else this scene has had to offer as of late. I can only hope this won’t be the last time we hear from these guys, but to all the bands hoping to release anything remotely pop-punk this year – and those who are looking for something great among the sea of mediocrity – Tycoon is easily one of the best things I’ve heard in 2012 so far.