Album art courtesy of Public Policy
Review by Max Luebbers
Providence alt-rock group Public Policy released a new EP, Human Resource, back in March, and upon first listen, the five tracks are immediately reminiscent of the mid-nineties post-hardcore movement. The sound can be squarely placed in 1994, alongside such classics as Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary and Jawbox’s For Your Own Special Sweetheart, and while the references to groups may be readily apparent, the group is spot-on with their own interpretation of the genres tropes, delivering 22 minutes of driving, nostalgic hard rock.
A guitar squeal in the opening track, “Trawlers,” immediately brought me back to the first time I heard a similar tinny riff on “Savory,” perhaps DC post-hardcore band Jawbox’s most famous song. It’s been almost 25 years since “Savory” was released, but the connection is still strong: a near-scream from the singer, popping bass, and deep driving rhythm guitar broken by the occasional ring of feedback harmonics. Floods of cymbals fill out the entire sound and complete the raucous, distorted, grungy pastiche that Public Policy is creating.
Despite the hectic nature of the record, the group keeps it impressively readable. With so much distortion, they risk losing information in the muddy washes of sound, but save the occasional wild climax, the whole work is well-mixed. It’s a testament to the group’s brilliant choice of sounds. The omnipresent drive highlights the guitars’ natural tone rather than mask it, and the occasional dissonant lead guitar interludes create a hypnotizing interplay between the listener’s ears. The drums’ low boom give the beat a trudging, driving power, and cymbals crash with overwhelming noise that makes the entire track press and release on your ears.
The group of Rhode Island natives have been going to school together and making music with one another for quite some time, and Public Policy is just the latest of their Providence-based projects. Early last year, B-SIDE had a chance to interview some of the band members while they were with another group, A Troop of Echoes. Reminiscent of local graphic designer and noise-rock legend Brian Chippendale’s art space, Fort Thunder, the group is based out of a warehouse in South Providence, where you can find them hosting shows.
Human Resource is an impressive display of the group’s raw and gritty sound. While their tracks resemble alt hits of past decades, their sound has been polished and re-worked to create a surprisingly fresh and energetic EP. Citing the surprise onset of diabetic ketoacidosis and the impromptu removal of a cracked molar during a studio session, the group endured pain and hardships during recording to create a visceral outpouring of emotion on each of Human Resource's five tracks. Let’s hope that the group can sustain such energy for many more releases to come.