Show Me The Body – ‘Dog Whistle’ review

The New York noise crew find a sense of humanity on this second album. While debut 'Body War' was a seething protest, this successor champions community

‘Body War’, the debut album from New York then-newcomers Show Me The Body, was a wrenching, hulking mass of flesh, bone and blood. In keeping with its title, it felt visceral – like the twisting, snapping spine of a generation holding far too much weight. Packed full of takedowns of gentrification, class inequality and the brutality of the big-city streets, bile-filled vocalist Julian Cashwan-Pratt seeming fit for breakdown at any point, it was the negative image to the New York of postcards and television; a snapshot of a city in disarray, and the underclass bearing the brunt of it.

By contrast to that attention-grabbing debut, ‘Dog Whistle’ feels like it has room to breathe. Make no mistake – the jarring noise and harsh sonics that made one of DIY punk’s most idiosyncratic voices remain. But amongst all the chaos, the trio – completed by multi-instrumentalist Harlan Steed and drummer Noah Cohen-Corbett – find a sense of clarity.

‘Dog Whistle’ is, at its core, a dedication to the community, friends and family at the heart of Show Me The Body, and their arts collective-meets-record label Corpus. ‘Madonna Rocket’, a banjo-led, foot-on-the-gas stormer of a track, exemplifies this best. “When I meet someone that’s good, I wanna die with them,” declares Cashwan-Pratt, “Dead friends, I still wanna say goodbye to them – all I have is family / I would die with them.” A far cry from ‘Body War’’s non-stop anger, ‘Dog Whistle’ refashions that energy into holding up the community around the trio.

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That’s not to say that Show Me The Body have gone soft. While they’ve been vocal about their disgust at punk being used as a political tool, the likes of ‘Camp Orchestra’ and ‘Badge Grabber’ are as harsh as ever, striking out at injustice around them. The former – partially inspired by a trip to Auschwitz as part of their European tour – takes on the structures that perpetuate social inequality (“no work will set you free”), while the latter uses thumping techno sonics to channel the heart-rate-juddering experience of coming face-to-face with the corrupt law enforcers that plague their New York home.

The production is slicker, the songwriting more considered, and the statement more solidified. Peppered with spoken-word interludes, Cashwan-Pratt laying himself bare like never before, ‘Dog Whistle’ is a manifesto for everything Show Me The Body’s early days promised. ‘Body War’ was their chaotic opening gambit, a stick of dynamite at the foot of established order. Now, together, the band are building something better.

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Details

  • Record Label: Loma Vista
  • Release Date: March 29, 2019

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