Seattle’s Success is one of the many amazing Pacific Northwest punk bands deserving of a wider audience. Radio Recovery is their Red Scare debut, bringing them into the veritable punk rock big leagues. Their songs are strong, muscular anthems surging with positivity and gruff sing alongs that make sweaty bodies and ringing ears symbols of catharsis.
Its interesting to think about how the standard punk sound has changed over the years. Each generation gets their take, and they dutifully strip and rebuild as they see fit. I won’t paint Success as grand innovators, because they’re not– but they do feel like the zenith of what punk rock is today. Double-time drums lend a 90’s Fat Wreck flavor to the proceedings, where energetic strums (with a pretty remarkably rock ‘n roll tone to them– crunchy with distortion, with enough treble to pierce through the mix) run through chord progressions, palm-muting for emphasis when needed. Nimble-digits shred through solos (remember when punk didn’t have guitar solos?) with plenty of bends and tremolo-stuttering. Its an inventory of everything that has been absorbed by punk rock since its inception, and I might sound cynical describing its components, but the sound itself is something I’m happy to see codified. Punk is its own entity, and where it has arrived at isn’t far from how it was originally envisioned: honest, no frills, rock music. Success aren’t pushing the envelope, but they’re writing and playing great songs that are filled with melody and electric energy. In a way, they’re making us continue caring about envelopes.
Radio Recovery is propelled through its thirty-three minute runtime with its songwriting. Album opener “Believe In” comes off as the band’s mission statement, a call to arms to not “waste another night.” Calling Success posi-punk is almost dismissive, there’s constant angst (“there’s no more hope for us”) on Radio Recovery. But, over the course of the album the message is that happiness is a battle. Its reflected in the pretty great album art, where outsiders are presented as defiantly happy, singing aloud electric folk songs in deserted alleys. These are the songs Success write.
“Revolution Schmevolution” takes aim at the punk scene and its ideological rhetoric, asking in the chorus if the revolution was tucked into the back of skin-tight jeans. The band re-records their song “Nowhere Kids,” which last appeared on We are the Elitist Generation. This time its faster and wisely cuts out the Goonies soundbyte, giving the impression of a band growing and maturing into their own identity.
When I talk about how Success is sonically a modern punk rock distillation, it goes to mention that if they weren’t, Radio Recovery would be a short-changed experiment. These are blue-collar anthems. Slice-of-life ruminations. Four chords and the truth plugged into an amp. When I call these folk songs for outsiders, I’m not being poetic. Just like everyone else who works a job and scrapes by, holds onto their ethics through the feast and the famine, and sees the light through music– these songs stand on their own legs.