“When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask to see the upstairs” is the welcoming quote on the inside of the pitch black CD gatefold cover of YPLL, and a prime example for the in-all-directions firing, biting cynicism that is spewed out during the 12 tracks of Retox’s second full length. Ex-The Locust singer Justin Pearson spares no one in the process, whether it’s religion, society, the fucking system or just the plain douchebag from next door, filling the world around YPLL’s 20-minute cosmos of raging noise punk with pessimistic venom and dry sarcasm. Pearson’s diction isn’t always very considerate though, as most of his lines are straight in-your-face – ribald, blunt and harsh, but always honest and sometimes with a very likable wit. This is the instantly charming thing about Retox’s new effort – it may be dismal and disturbing as well as depressingly negative in its determined mindset, but it is performed with such exuberance and coarse conceit that you won’t take anything on here too seriously. Instead, and much better for that matter, it is perfectly entertaining throughout.
Musically, the band from L.A. continues where it left off on their firstling Ugly Animals, namely with noisy, angular hardcore punk that is brief, energetic and surprisingly catchy. With songs ranging from pure breakneck hardcore madness to bouncing rhythms with more breakneck hardcore madness, YPLL never loses steam as all the shredding lead guitar tidbits, quaking bass grooves and tenacious nagging are jazzed up by intelligent songwriting ideas and addictive melodies. “Mature Science” for example switches from intense snare-snoggling hardcore in the beginning to fist-raising chorus melodies, while “Soviet Reunion” utilizes a strident main riff as the perfect release from Pearson’s seething harangue, and closer “Consider the Scab Already Picked” finds itself in an ultra-groovy midtempo outro after starting off furiously with busy guitar leads and rapid-fire drums. Pearson’s musical heritage is also evident, as songs like “Biological Process of Politics” are reminiscent of the disjunctive weirdness of The Locust, with off-kilter rhythms and epileptic legato leads fueling his distorted screams through the track’s short duration.
When the brilliant “Consider the Scab Already Picked” comes to an end, YPLL has said everything it had to say, and is pure entertainment for brain and ear. There’s nothing more you could ask for from a 20-minute punk record, whether you are a fan of Retox, The Locust or hardcore punk in general.