Self Defense Family, formerly knows as End of a Year, have already gained a loyal following amongst punk fans who value integrity and unabashed creativity over predictability and pandering to the whims of the standard exponents. The prolific band are firmly amongst those who have taken the punk manifesto to heart and applied its one main rule: there are no rules, a guideline that many punk bands seem sadly unaware of or ignorant to.
You Are Beneath Her is a brilliant exercise in their idiosyncratic punk vision, unashamedly hooky yet adrift from any notion of contemporary pop-punk, you won’t find any high-school saccharine tales of awkward romances here. Instead, the lyrical fare remains heavy in its emotionality, providing some essence of darkness amongst the comparatively up-tempo instrumentation.
Singer Caroline Corrigan takes the spotlight for the E.P’s four tracks, replacing outspoken frontman Patrick Kindlon’s gruff delivery in a flux of members that marks Self Defense Family as a defiantly unorthodox band, folk-like in their revolving membership policy. Her cooing vocals sit beautifully amongst the delicate acoustic opener ‘Eric Hall’ yet also stand up strongly against the band’s furore on the remaining three tracks. Layered harmonies on ‘Jeni Leigh’ provide a joyous depth to the otherwise basic production style, a production method used sparingly on the E.P but to sumptuous effect.
The straight-forward and propulsive ‘Marissa Wendolovske’ exudes urgency, the tempo upped and smattered with melodically inflicted chords. Closer ‘Philip Jose Farmer’ arrives amongst the ambient noise of a video game arcade, soon giving way to the most versatile song on the E.P as Caroline rallies against unoriginality: “Is there any good idea lame asshole won’t steal” she laments.
Instrumentation and production quality reeks of the classic Dischord Records house style, it may be basic but is certainly not unoriginal, the guitar work obviously taking much inspiration from Ian Mackaye’s Fugazi years: gimmick free and wonderfully simple.
You Are Beneath Heris a fantastic example of Self Defense Family’s continually studious punk. Caroline’s understated voice acts as focal point, delivering Patrick’s Kindlon’s typically opinionated lyrical fare with a breathless elegance that may seem oddly divorced from the dogmatic content, yet her warm vocal grain provides a soothing experience for the ears. A wonderfully intellectual little punk record that offers a genuinely individual and slightly eccentric take on the ageing genre.
4 out of 5 high fives!