Connecticut art punks Perennial capture the spirit of post-hardcore with their ambitious sophomore LP In The Midnight Hour; an infectious, relentlessly noisy record, oozing ever-perennial punk energy and inspired by the eclectic sounds of their cultural New England surroundings. From watching post-hardcore arts-college/rec-centre gigs, like Q And Not U and The Blood Brothers, to indie record store discoveries like Nick Cave, Perennial absorbed and integrated an assortment of ideas, exploring and expanding their sound to deliver an unpredictable, complex punk album.
Following their debut EP Early Sounds for Night Owls (2015), their debut LP The Symmetry of Autumn Leaves (2017) and EP Food for Hornets (2019), multi-instrumentalists Chad Jewett, Chelsey Hahn and drummer Wil Mulhern – with encouragement from The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die’s Chris Teti – began deconstructing hardcore punk; maintaining their intensity, but emphasising a greater degree of creative expression. Opening with ‘The Skeleton Dance’, Perennial are loud enough to wake the dead, conjuring a whiplash-inducing combination of electronic instrumentation before diving headfirst into hardcore dance-punk anthem ‘In The Midnight Hour’, a worthy title track where the kinetic guitar riffs bite as hard as Hahn and Jewett’s haunting lyrics.
The angular art-punk attack continues with rambunctious groove on ‘Soliloquy For Neil Perry’, leading into the propulsive slam-punk-poetry of ‘Lauren Bacall In Blue’, an infectious, unapologetic track as alluring as its namesake. ‘Food For Hornets’ allows for further experimentation, with Hahn and Jewett trading screaming vocals over scuzzy post-hardcore guitar-hooks and aberrant effects. As Hahn chants “cut up the pattern, yeah,” the band do just that, descending into rumbling idiosyncratic melody.
Catch your breath during ‘Hey Eurydice’ because you won’t get another chance for the remainder of In The Midnight Hour. Conjuring the spirit of poet T. S. Eliot with abrasive, crushing rhythm and punishing percussion, ‘Tooth Plus Claw’ ends with a bang but not a whimper, whilst ‘Melody For A New Cornet’ follows with an equally aggressive performance from the atypical noise-rock trio, pounding basslines leading to the propulsive rhythm of ‘Hour Of The Wolf’. Narratively, ‘Perennial In A Haunted House’ is the ghostly quiet, long after the midnight hour has concluded, the haunted house of our own making. But musically, Perennial’s scrappy lead single couldn’t be louder! ‘I Am The Whooping Crane’ follows with an experimental blend of jazz-infused punk groove, poetic storytelling, and Motown flirtation (during its final seconds) before ‘Absolver’ closes the album with sonic ferocity.
12 songs, 22 minutes of erratic art punk for the nocturnal! Perennial’s unpredictable sophomore LP – “a punk album that doesn’t operate like a punk album” – rewards repeated spins, each track layered with enough weirdo punk energy and reckless abandon to keep the needle dropped.
Photo Credit: Omari Spears