Plague Vendor’s debut record Free To Eat is ten songs and 17 minutes of gale-force, self-assured, 21st century punk rock.
Lyrics such as “I’m going to drive my car off a bridge / When I run out of gas” suggest the LA foursome is hell-bent on self-destruction, but also knows when enough’s enough. Theirs is a sort of debonair chaos – they’ve got a knack for making fast, maniacal dissonance sound friendly.
Even though these boys do get wild, self-awareness keeps tapping them on the shoulder. Opener ‘Black Sap Scriptures’ (the longest track at two minutes, 37 seconds) makes dystopian allusions like, “I’ve been living off the soil for centuries / Never did I stop to think what it might do to me,” while ‘Garden Lanterns’ faces a sentimental conflict.
Plague Vendor is the friend who spends all night devouring wine and rambling about who’s the best-looking Dostoevsky character, before passing out in the bath only to emerge at 4am with glow sticks in their hair.
It all happens in a spasmodic daze and the band fluctuates between taking itself rather seriously and telling “the world to fuck off”. The party would be nothing without them.
Free To Eat is out now through Epitaph.