Effective Relief, Demo (2023)

As the band themselves tell it, Effective Relief “started coming together when things weren't together at all.”

Their witty and sharp punk vibe is at once antagonistic and subtly catchy.

The New York City band's recently released six-song demo offers up fast-paced and clever tracks that conjure up comparisons to Drug Church and As Friends Rust. We’re talking brevity mixed with melody mixed with idiosyncratic lyrics, and it’s super fucking fun.

The opening track, “Gums,” kicks out with driving guitars laid over with great leads and popping drums. The vocals temper the song’s speed a bit, offering a guttural yet well-annunciated yell that paces the otherwise bouncing musical rhythm.

It's a quirky and fun song, shedding off some of the attempts at overt seriousness that is a terrible trap for so many other bands.

“Wrote on Foam,” the demo’s second song rocks with much the same vibe as “Gums.” What stands out on “Wrote on Foam” is the sense of energy and buildup that the drums and guitars develop throughout the song. The riffs here are what remind me of early As Friends Rust, offering cool harmonic leads that bring power to both the music and the vocals.

The two most impressive songs on the demo are “Books Abroad” and “Design for Life.” The lyrical content on “Books Abroad” is strong and gives the song a broodiness that is otherwise absent in the eccentric guitar melodies. The quiet bridge in the song is anchored by vocalist Matt Brennan’s choice to quietly speak the lyrics, creating an unsettling moment for the listener.

But, really, the line “Not to speak ill of me, but a mirror is all this world could be” sums up the sort of introspective antagonism that makes “Books Ahead” so great.

“Designs for Life” is my other favorite and the demo’s most complete song. The opening guitar track rocks with a great Fugazi vibe before moving into discordant bending tracks that give the song a quick pace while also bringing out an unusual catchiness.

The vocals on this song deliver a great rock n roll styling without trying to do too much. What brings “Designs to Life” together is that everything is in balance and the song is just cohesive and well-written. 

What we know about Effective Relief is that their members have a strong pedigree of former/current bands, they’ve created music in this six-song demo that isn’t derivative of any of those other bands, and that they’re not all that sure what’s next. I quite like that.

Effective Relief isn’t here to bring us anything more or less than noisy punk that rocks with an odd sense of melody. Absolutely worth a few listens.

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