The PrivateerEast Grand Record Co.
By Cole Faulkner
The Tosspints are an Irish punk bands that has outgrown their Irish punk demarcation. Sure, you could point to the ongoing tin whistle, roughneck, pub-worthy anthems that go hand in hand with the Michigan staple, but that would overlook the various folk-flavoured strands running through the rustic trio. The Tosspints make clear from the early stages in their fourth full length, The Privateer, that they are every bit as confident at capably infusing their sound with neighbouring genres as keeping with tradition.
Opening with the big wailing marcher, “Pirates Life,” the song warrants an early likeness to The Dreadnoughts days of sea-shanty punk. “Wooooaaahhh, it’s a pirate’s life for me,” shouts vocalist Don Zuzula in a fast paced tale of a transient, dock-bound habits. Coarse riffs cash harshly amidst occasional chimes and a well worn maritime attitude. It’s a one off intro, but between the rattle bang pacing and sing along chorus, makes for one heck of introduction. Jumping from water to land, “Untitled Western” finds The Tosspints turning on a dime and thrusting listeners into the dusty plains of yore. Loaded with acoustic twang at a steady gallop, the track unravels a tale of a wandering vagrant played to the tune of a spaghetti western. While certainly something you’d expect more from Ghoultown or Long Tall Texans, the band demonstrates early mastery of the theme.
After an ambitious startup, The Privateer settles somewhere between western overtones and traditional folk-punk anthems. Tracks like the tale of reaching the end of the bottle, “My Last And Only Friend,” draw upon a slight twang, whereas those like “Hollow” scale back convention with a heavy heart for a surprisingly calm altrock slow burner about camaraderie channeling elements of The Hold Steady. Generally speaking, the tempo and style reflects the subject matter. For instance, “We Are The Many” bolts ahead at about the album’s fastest pace as The Tosspints rant about resisting the political and economic oppression of the one percent. Their conviction is real and would serve as a killer rallying cry for a live show. “The Dregs” amps up guitar distortion to near-psychobilly levels and the title track closes The Privateer on a delicate and emotionally in-tune acoustic note. Embellished by vibrant imagery and the disc’s sole fiddle contribution, it makes for a finale that would give Murder By Death a run for their money. The band trades vocals and instruments periodically from coarse to calm, quick to calculated, making for a flow that never outstays its welcome.
The Tosspints have produced an album of subsequent highs. Tracks stand out for varied and distinct reasons, owing their success to The Tosspints breadth of inspiration and expert execution. For all of The Privateers’ evolving personality (you can’t really pin it down to any one sound, making the opening track and album art a tad deceiving), the level of experience and maturity shines through, binding the entirety of the project together. The Tosspints have branched out beyond their borders, making The Privateer a must for many.