A Madison thing we're listening to: Post Social's "Major Congrats"
The indie-rock quartet cranks it up a bit on a new album.
Post Social are hardly the first band to record an album with the stated goal of rocking out a bit harder than before, but on the new Major Congrats, the Madison quartet does so with a fresh set of ears and plenty of the melodic eccentricity of its previous three albums.
"We've done the whole 'bedroom pop' (or whatever you wanna call it) thing enough to be bored of it, so we thought the most effective way to rebel against that was to get stacks of amps and be ridiculous and turn everything up, and not record at home," says guitarist-vocalist Shannon Connor. "The album didn't turn out to be all dumb rock songs since some were left over from before that decision, but a lot of them turned out that way, which I'm personally really happy with. "
Post Social's idea of a "dumb rock song," though, involves plenty of witty twists and turns, and the guitars running through those amp stacks tend to sound brightly overdriven rather than blasted out with distortion. The album's first track, "Outside Man," starts off with two and a half minutes of instrumental back-and-forth, as Connor and guitarist-vocalist Mitch Deitz careen through a series of interlocking melodies, throwing in noisy bends and plucky T. Rex chords in between. Underneath that, Sam Galligan's bass has a nice dash of filth on it, and drummer Brendan Manley supplies a raucous sense of dynamics.
The band self-recorded its last album, 2016's Casablanca, at home, but for Major Congrats recorded with Ricky Riemer (of the Madison bands His & Her Vanities and Transformer Lootbag) at Riemer's Science of Sound studio on the east side. As on plenty of other recordings made there (by Madison artists including Trin Tran, Icarus Himself, and Dick The Bruiser), Riemer captures a rich, warm document without doing anything to get in the band's way.
"We wanted to make an album that would be fun to play live, which is one of the reasons why we decided to return to the studio—so we could actually record the songs live and give them that energy," Deitz says.
This seems to have made the band feel very comfortable veering through a range of sounds and approaches. "Creeping Up" reminds me of Fred Thomas' recent solo work, threading wistful vocal melodies around snarled power-pop guitars. "Popeye" starts with a pleasantly chintzy drum machine and florid, clean-toned chords, and hovers in a zone between propulsive and chilled-out, making Post Social sound almost like a scrappier version of The Sea And Cake for a few minutes. The band's interest in country music comes through in the acoustic rhythm guitar work and steel-guitar swoops on "Sand Wand," but at the same time, a sly, dissonant chord progression tugs the song away from country songwriting conventions.
Post Social's members were in high school when they formed the band (they're in their early 20s now), and some of them have been playing music together since even earlier than that. Over time they've developed a collaborative writing process, and on Major Congrats they expanded on that by doing a bit of instrument-switching; for instance, Galligan wrote some of the drum parts on the album, while Manley (also of the gloriously gloomy band Dash Hounds) contributed some guitar and bass parts.
"A lot of the fun of being in this band comes from not knowing where songs are going to go, to an extent I don't experience much in other projects I'm involved in," Manley says. "It's fun to have a developed idea of what a song could be and have it turn out like something else completely. "
Post Social's next local show is on September 4 at Communication.