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Downtown Boys - Cost of Living (Album Review)

Friday, 18 August 2017 Written by Laura Johnson

How long can a band keep their foot down? That’s always the concern when faced with a debut record as ferocious as Downtown Boys’ 2012 self-titled LP, which saw vocalist Victoria Ruiz spitting vitriol at breakneck pace. Its follow up, 2015’s ‘Full Communism’, charged along a similar path. ‘Cost of Living’, though, is where Providence band smooth out some of their rougher edges.

With the help of Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto on production duty, Downtown Boys have harnessed the vigour that makes them great and polished things up just enough to allow their abrasive charm to shine through. Lyrically they continue to get down to brass tacks, candidly calling out discrimination and injustice.

I’m Enough (I Want More) and Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas), which loosely translates to We’re Elegant (We Are Not Dumb), hark back to the sentiments of ‘Full Communism’ cuts (brown and smart) and Monstro.

There is an ongoing battle, both on a personal and public level, between being comfortable and self-assured and being told you should strive for something better. Downtown Boys have talked about walking that line before and here they continue to yo-yo.

As the bass-driven Promissory Note shows, they’re here to speak their mind. Referencing Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have a Dream Speech, the track is underpinned by Ruiz’s attack on white supremacy. “So what’s the matter, you don’t like what you see?” she asks. “I won’t light myself on fire to keep you warm, won’t carry you up that hill.”

There are also hidden depths to Downtown Boys. You would do well to delve into them head first. Opener A Wall, which takes shots at Donald Trump and his proposed barrier along the US-Mexican border, is inspired by a line in Assata Shakur's poem i believe in living: “A wall is just a wall, and nothing more at all.”

The use of such a line by activists born decades apart illustrates that society has not come as far as some may claim. There are still changes to make and challenges to face. There are walls that need to be torn down. As long as there are people who try to oppress others, Downtown Boys will be around to answer back.

Downtown Boys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed October 11 2017 - BRIGHTON Haunt
Thu October 12 2017 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Fri October 13 2017 - EDINBURGH Sneaky Petes
Sat October 14 2017 - GLASGOW Stereo
Mon October 16 2017 - DUBLIN Workmans Club
Tue October 17 2017 - LIVERPOOL Shipping Forecast
Wed October 18 2017 - LONDON Tufnell Park Dome
Thu October 19 2017 - SHEFFIELD Picture House Social
Fri October 20 2017 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute

Click here to compare & buy Downtown Boys Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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