Been sitting with the debut from Boston’s Sweeping Promises for a few weeks now and the record only endears itself harder with each listen. The band’s set the record up to neatly echo a lost generation of punk, post-punk, and New Wave, threading a rhythmic urgency, fluorescent keys, and the velvet right hook of Lira Mondal’s vocals through the speakers. The band recorded the whole LP live to a single mic in the room, which seems like it would flatten things to a lo-fi lump. Yet, while this is by no means a polished album, they use the austerity to their advantage, letting memories of no-frills punk like Kleenex, The Germs, or The Slits act as a blueprint here. Hunger For a Way Out in turn feels like the sonic equivalent of a xeroxed show flyer — instantly inviting, vibrant, and urgent, but not overwrought in any way. They drop into the ranks of newer DIY punks who’ve found space to play within the classic sounds, making it clear that they’re picking up the baton and running forward rather than retreading. Fans of Lithics, Shopping, or Primo, will find a lot to love here.
As I mentioned in my write-up of the band’s single “Falling Forward,” one of the things that really makes the record work are the vocals from Mondal. Despite the rudimentary recording setup, the band’s able to let her voice flex over the top of the elastic energy bubbling below her. Its a shaded delivery, not going into the obvious yelp or affecting the flat delivery that post-punk so often produces. She can attack when needed, letting that high crack fit the fury, but there’s a good amount of Debbie Harry in the DNA here, if only Blondie had gotten wirier rather than more polished in their tenure. Not a lot of debuts drop out this fully formed, and while there’s clearly room to see if the band can apply polish and retain the percolating pulse that Hunger possesses, there’s also a little hope that they retain this ragged glory forever.
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