Animal Style Records
Rising UK post-punk act Apologies, I Have None plays into that internal, emotional darkness residing deep within each of us. Doubt, anxiety, fear and trepidation course through the quartet’s musical pallet, grounding grave personal experience in conflicted outbreaks and contemplative lulls. Their sophomore full length, Pharmacie, exhibits immediate similarities to genre fence posts like Manchester Orchestra and Brand New, harnessing the shadowy, brooding turmoil of a fragile mind, and inviting listeners to share the experience. The style won’t be of surprise to fans, but the vigor and precision of this familiar sound from newcomers will surely turn heads within the first few minutes.
As revealed in the title and album art, Pharmacie revolves around a world of over the counter and prescription drugs, as the psychologically unstable attempt to self-medicate shaking fingers and depressed thoughts. “There’s never enough, ever enough… of love & medication,” bemoans frontman Josh Mckenzie as he sets the record’s tone of and mental state, following with the line, “these tired eyes and a wild mind, burning up like wild fire.” While not the most atmospheric track on the album, the interplay of piano, steady riffs, and affective vocals lay the groundwork for the fierce emotionalism of “Wraith” and “The Clarity Of Morning.”
Together, the two mark perhaps the most striking compositions on the disc, on which the band demonstrates both range and sensitivity. “Wraith” expertly balances emotional whispers with crashing hardcore retreat. “In my sleep all I ever see, rotting corpses and winter trees, a twisted cyprus that holds no leaves, gives a violent lifeless, freezing scream,” makes for powerful, lingering imagery, bleeding into the ethereal wisp of “The Clarity of Morning.” Paralleling the “quiet” side of Brand New, the track unfolds under a sullen tempo sure to raise the hairs on your neck and send a shiver down your spine. Neighbouring song “Goodbye, Peace Of Mind” further capitalizes on the effect in a melancholy retrospective of the tangled memory between estranged brothers. The lyrics are poignant in their selection, brimming with regret and acknowledgement. As with any standout piece of post-punk, the song’s emotions quickly entangle the listener.
The bulk of Pharmacie finds Apologies, I Have None swaying ever so gently between both styles, ensuring listeners become subsumed in an ongoing sense of emotional flux. Tracks like “Crooked Teeth” offer moments of sonic tranquility, like still water capturing a clear reflection. Fragile and soft, such clarity feels ready to dissipate upon contact with even a single raindrop, which ultimately lands a track later during the abruptly crashing, tumultuous chorus erupting two minutes into “Everybody Wants To Talk About Mental Health.” Never rushed, the band explores such expositions with generous run times that permit shifting tensions to arise naturally. Anyone claiming that such lengthy songs outlive their welcome has clearly missed the point, and would be advised to devote the appropriate time for a more assiduous, intimate listen.
Having been recently disappointed by rising post-punk act Dikembe’s highly anticipated sophomore attempt, I had resolved that this year may have lacked a clear contender for a top notch post-punk. But thanks to the atmospheric, deeply moving showcase that is Pharmacie, that crown may very well belong to Apologies, I Have None. Pharmacie is everything you’d want from your new favourite post-punk band. It’s passionate, emotive, and writhing with a genuine sense of life.