Album Review: Plague Vendor - By Night

Artist: Plague Vendor

Album: By Night

Genre: Alternative/Punk Rock/Post-Punk

Review by Karl O’Shea

California punk-rockers Plague Vendor have returned with their second full-length album By Night, a half-hour energetic blast that’s equal parts swagger and anxious tension. The album has been produced by John Congleton (St Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, Chelsea Wolfe), encouraging experimentation, and resulting in an album that juxtaposes raw rock-and-roll noise with controlled dynamics, deliberate song-writing and tasteful psychedelic touches.

These guys don’t mess around. The tone is set several seconds into opener “New Comedown”, bursting out of the gate with a punchy, motorik rhythm section that barely lets up and provides the bedrock for the rest of the album to come. The vocals recall the feral lust of Iggy Pop with the detachment of Ian Curtis while the guitars vacillate between fuzzed-out chords and sharp, angular leads.

Minimalism and repetition are the key words on By Night. Each one of these ten tracks is comprised of a simple idea that is played with urgent deliberation and explored from multiple angles, not a single second wasted. Songs don’t so much flow from verse to chorus as they expand and contract, ranging from moments of coiled tension to explosive noise. The resulting effect is kind of like trance-inducing dance music but played with rock instrumentation.

Nothing outstays it’s welcome here and the album is a brief-yet-perfect 30 mins, perfectly designed to be played on repeat. While none of the ideas on this album are entirely original, the combination of sounds, attention-to-detail and brevity make this a highly addictive and very fun ride. You can try and resist the urge to bob your head or move your feet but believe me - you will fail.

Rating: 8 out of 10

“By Night” is out now through Epitaph Records

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