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Ultimate Success Today is the fifth album from alternative rock band Protomartyr. The record is largely informed by singer Joe Casey’s retrospective feelings about how he felt during the re-release of their first album, No Passion All Technique. Casey ruminates over the passing of time. Listening back to the album, Casey hears himself hoping for a long future but conscious that that could be it for the band. Writing Ultimate Success Today, Casey was reminded of that fervent urgency of the first record and, while it may prove to be just another milestone in a long career, Ultimate Success Today finds Casey wanting to get his last words in, just in case. Behind that stark descriptor looms glorious walls of sound and melodious textures, from a band destined for another high-ranking end-of-year album. Ultimate Success Today is available in an indie store exclusive transparent blue vinyl and includes a poster and zine insert. A digital download is included.
Ultimate Success Today is Protomartyr’s statement of intent, and it is something to behold.
Where do you go, when your entire sound is built on being as caustic as possible? This is the question that faced Protomartyr after the release of 2017’s Relatives In Descent. After all, there’s only so many times you can turn up the dial, before you slip into self-parody. The band walked that line with ease in the past, but it appears they are as painfully aware of the difference between the two as the listener is. Because they chose to get softer. That’s not to say that Ultimate Success Today is by any means an easy listen. It hits harder, leans in and draws blood just as much as any of their albums do, and at times it slips into noise rock perhaps more than the band ever have before. No, what leavens the record is this: there’s space. I’m reminded of BAMBARA’s Stray; a record just as heavy as this one in places, but again with moments of light. On the other hand, the band still know how to rip into a track when necessary. ‘Michigan Hammers’ is thunderous, colliding on every single beat, and first single ‘Processed By The Boys’ is undeniable, too. You find yourself relaxing into the monolithic guitar stabs, juddering forwards. But, as grand statements go, closer ‘Worm In Heaven’ just can’t be beaten. The song is constructed as a final goodbye from someone on the brink of death, but as the lyrics burrow into mortality, they find themselves questioning – why write in the first place, and what is the point of any of this? The point, is this: “I did exist, I did / I was here, I am”. Ultimate Success Today is Protomartyr’s statement of intent, and it is something to behold.