REVIEW: Frustration – So Cold Streams (2019)

This post originally appeared on the 10th Dentist blog on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020.

Parisian punks living in a post-Devo world.

So Cold Streams, the 5th full length studio release by French post-punk band Frustration loses distinctiveness in an ever growing faux-goth world. Where influences of Wire, Devo, and Warsaw were more prominent, the band’s rigid originality gives to the standardized faux-nostalgia/goth worship era of post-punk.

     The album opens with Insane, an aggravated synth-disco track more reminiscent of LCD-Soundsystem than that of Frustration’s earlier rigidity. So Cold Streams brings with it an immediately noticeable built up and polished sound, a glaring departure from their previous dry and stripped production work. In turn, Frustration’s previously angular, minimalist approach to melody has been substituted for a more ethereal, layered melodic approach that has become the rampant go-to for newly found goth worship bands.

     This effort doesn’t fall completely flat though. Tracks such as ‘Brume’ and ‘La Grand Soir’ find Frustration’s vocalist and front man Fabrice Gilbert singing in the band’s native French; a rarity in their discography and a nice break for those looking to find non-anglophonic music. And notably, ‘Slave Market’ features a spoken bridge by Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods. So Cold Streams ends with its strongest track, La Grand Soir, a dynamic 5 minute piece shifting solely between verse and chorus, slowly building in grandiosity before disintegrating back into a void of silence.

     Maybe with the recent increase of Joy Division fetishization (a band who Frustration have been compared to way too often) punk bands have lost faith in their influences for a sound that’s retrofit hip. Overall the 5th installment in the Frustration saga has been a welcomed break in western punk uniformity, even if it nears ever so slightly to it.

For fans of: Joy Division, Malaria!, Killing Joke
Like Frustration? Give these a listen: Dame, Crack Cloud, L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation

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