In the birth of the internet, the ill-timed phrase, “this isn’t punk!” was uttered by way too many online accounts. Fast forward to today, and some people are still taking it to the web to defend against whether their favorite bands fit into one genre or another. The times have changed slightly as genre lines tend to be blurred as groups evolve and figure out their sound. Enter Russian Girlfriends, who make unapologetic, blazing punk rock that demands to be pumped through the speakers at the highest volume. For those unfamiliar with the band, Russian Girlfriends are a five-piece band from Albuquerque, New Mexico in the style of the melodic urgency of The Bouncing Souls, the political brashness of Anti-Flag, and the high-energy punk rock of The Explosion. Comparisons aside, In the Parlance of our Times is one of the better punk rock records to come out in the latter half of this decade.
Led by their fearless front-man Adam Hooks, Russian Girlfriends waste little time getting to the point of their songs as each of their tracks on the LP clock-in right around the three-minute mark. Kicking off the set with “Coke,” the first thing that will grab your attention is the excellent guitar work of Colin Dowell and Ian Jarell, that immediately blasts the record into orbit. The speedy one-minute track sets the table well for the pleasing plethora of fantastic songs on the album. “Angry Bong Rips” follows the opener with some great starts and stops that show off the tremendous band chemistry that the band exudes. This song reminded me of one of my favorite punk records in the late 00’s; The Explosion’s Black Tape. All parts click in sync and remind listeners how raw and fun punk rock can be when it’s done correctly.
“The Day We Put The Dog Down” showcases the vocal range of Hooks, and features some great fills from drummer Sasha Horn. It’s rare for a punk song to grab me from the first listen, but this song kept my attention throughout, and I found myself wanting even more by its end. “Redfield” is the most recent single released from the band, and outlines Hooks’ experience of growing up as a pastor’s son and unraveling some of the feelings of breaking away from a religion that he didn’t identify with. The song itself is an excellent choice of a single and has some terrific guitar riffs, breakneck melodic breakdowns, and professional transitions between each of the parts.
“Pride Parade” is another single choice that comes as no surprise, as it sets itself apart as one of the stronger songs in the set. The song kicks off with another excellent punk rock riff from Dowell, and the lyrical content hones in the idea of creating a world of acceptance while at the same time not being afraid to fight for the right for these same freedoms. “White Guilt White Heat” transitions next in the terrific song sequencing on the record and allows Hooks to showcase his impressive vocal range and remain as tight as ever with the backing instruments. Hooks vocals hit their peak during the melodic breakdown in the middle of the song as the band takes a brief reprieve from the fast-paced rock to allow their fearless leader to soar to new heights.
Other songs on the tail end of the LP such as “Obsidian,” with its pulsating bass lines from Jeremy Keith, never deter the album from losing momentum. In fact, the song only further displays what the band is capable of pulling off. With so many different stylistic choices made throughout the record, one would think that the group would be out of ideas. This theory is quickly disproved as we reach the thrilling conclusion of the record in the form of “Babylon.” The song tells a dense story lyrically and is the right choice of an album closer. Being the longest song on the record comes with the added pressure of remaining interesting and engaging over the four and half minutes, yet Russian Girlfriends are more than up to the task as they put the necessary touches on an album worthy of immediate praise. Whether or not this record appeases the so-called “punk purists” is irrelevant; this is one of the better albums of 2019 regardless of genre.