[sic] Magazine

Mind Rays – Course Of Action

The problem with perfectly enjoyable punk albums like this is that IDLES have raised the bar. No longer can you just be angry; you have also to punch the zeitgeist smartly on the nose. No longer can you just play fast and loud; you have to vary your delivery for effect, etc. Quite how long the bar will remain so high is anyone’s guess, but – despite trying to tie the project together under a banner of philosophical existentialism (just how do you reap what you sow during life?) – for now Mind Rays’ sophomore LP falls just under that bar through little fault of their own.

A couple of years on from the Belgian band’s punishing Nerve Endings, Course Of Action has many a highlight, successfully capturing the band’s live energy being one of them, but so too does it introduce a smartened-up sound, catchy in parts to the point of hooky 60s garage-rock, which – while fun – does little to improve the offering. In this camp comes the scratchy “Pristine Condition”, the hooky “Beasts Ahead” (which to its credit does latterly open up a neat can of pit frenzy), as well as the metallic jangles of closer “Godless Clay”.

With 10 tracks done and dusted in under 25 minutes though, few of them hang around long enough for you to truly take stock of these changes. What remains constant and entirely more noticeable is the band’s strength at speed and their harder stuff consequently still makes more of a splash. The album’s longest track, “Makeshift Weaponry”, for example, pushes over the three-minute mark with rolling waves of pogoing percussion and choppy guitar, its noisy clatter dropping in and out of intensity to let frontman Sis Sevens growl and spit his barbs of choice. The first in a series of tracks that makes more use of the vocal than on the debut, the one-minute single, “Maker’s Remorse”, then deploys a rasping, near-spoken vocal that causes just as much damage, what follows a hot tumble of convulsing post-punk energy, precision assaults of distortion, bluesy riffing and a sweaty stream of pure, undulating rock ‘n’ roll – a breathless set you’d be happy to catch live, but one which may leave you craving for more on record.

Best track: “Makeshift Weaponry”

~Course Of Action is released November 1st 2019 via PNKSLM.~