The Dischord Records logo, with its simple, scrawled white lettering set against a stark black backdrop, has served as an unrivaled seal of punk rock and hardcore quality for more than 30 years. It makes the debut release from Deathfix all the more surprising.
Led by Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and rounded out by Devin Ocampo and Mark Cisneros of Medications and frequent Bob Mould collaborator Richard Morel, the record is decidedly non-Dischord in its approach. In fact, it might be one of the more straight-forward records the defiantly underground label has ever produced.
Doing away with the big guitars and lean hooks that the label has championed so adamantly over the years, Deathfix settles warmly into a pleasant, melodic ’70s pop groove, one colored with plentiful flourishes and textured arrangements. “Better Than Bad”, the record’s lead track, gives a nod to Big Star-style power pop, while “Playboy” is a palatable dose of mid-tempo-piano driven pop rock. Elsewhere the band also tries its hand at some other noticeably non-punk styles, from morose art rock (“Low Lying Dreams”) and even a Phish-like jam (“Mind Control”).
Purists might bristle at the thought of Canty, a proud DC and Dischord lifer, escaping hardcore and post-punk’s stagnant grasp, but the band makes no apologies for its bold break from tradition. And why should it? Deathfix might move in a different direction, but with it the band brings the same earnest fervor and intensity as anyone else in the label’s long lineage. Minor Threat and Fugazi they’re not, but Deathfix finds away to live up to the iconic imprint’s sterling reputation for quality on its own terms.
Essential tracks: “Better Than Bad”, “Low Lying Dreams”, and “Playboy”