Music journalists (including myself) tend to toss the term “Post Punk” around with reckless abandon, herding just about any gloomy, somewhat experimental act under the genre’s umbrella. Listen to enough of the stuff and you’ll quickly be able to parse out the genre’s core tenets — chugging basslines, industrial textures and choppy guitar riffs dripping with acidity.
But what does it really mean? Post Punk’s name implies a progression from mere Punk, and its grittier, more melodic structures don’t seem like enough of a leap to put a border between Joy Division and The Sex Pistols.
To Ryan Patterson, frontman of Louisville, Ky.-based trio Fotocrime, working within the genre represents personal progression. A longtime member of Hardcore and Metal projects in his local scene, he’s gravitated from sludgy aggression to softer, more expressive songcraft. Fotocrime’s debut LP, Principle of Pain, was a conscious effort to eschew machismo, diving headfirst into the brooding romanticism favored by ’80s AltRock bands like The Cure and Killing Joke.
“As a male who’s a big guy … there’s a perception about me because of my appearance and with (my previous band) Coliseum, a perception about our music,” Patterson told Treblezine earlier this year. “I just don’t like that overbearing, intense masculinity. It’s about tenderness and exploration and artistry and things like that. It’s not about chest beating.”
His new material may lack the volcanic grit that marked his work with Coliseum, but Principle of Pain still packs intensity in spades. His vocals lurch from muttered spoken-word verses to feverish gasps that recall Depeche Mode. Synthesized strings and reverb-soaked guitar pluckings complete Fotocrime’s theatrical flair — one part hardboiled film noir (as the group’s name suggests) and one part Glam Rock melodrama. It’s a massive sound — one that doesn’t need to flex its muscles to size up.