Minimalistic in its prowl and yet tonally aggressive when and where it counts for something. Vocally driven when verses are accounting for passion, instrumentally focused in instances where words simply won’t suffice. “Eat the Bugs” is, on the surface, a frustratingly flexible piece of music for a critic like myself. It has a contradictive construction that makes it feel as though we’re slipping into darkness, moving in reverse if you will, while its lyrics beg for us to look ahead, to be better, and ultimately, to be strong amidst a smothering sonic backdrop. If the sum of good music is a song that makes you feel something with its words and tune the same, I would have to say that The Refusers’ new single is something listeners need to hear right now.
As a visual document, the music video for “Eat the Bugs” is something that we haven’t seen much of from the recent punk community in its blunt, unapologetic support for anarchy sans the political undertow that frequently undercuts such a statement, and no matter where you stand on the issues, it’s inarguably a landmark moment for the indie players who give it life. In their message and the means through which they deliver it to us, they’re fierce and not backing down from the complexity of the moment, which is a lot more than can be said for many of their mainstream counterparts.
Although it’s far from the lone release I’ve heard in 2022 to take on a big issue and win credibility with critics like myself, I will say that The Refusers’ “Eat the Bugs” feels like one of the more creative and compelling single/video combos of its kind that you’re going to hear or see before the year is over, primarily because these guys don’t sound like they’re mailing it in. In the same tradition as political punkers like Coffin Break, who also came from Seattle, this is a band that wants to dig into a bigger conversation without making it about a specific candidate or a narrative that has been wholly played out by a scene or even an individual artist on the charts at the moment.
As a music aficionado, I’m intrigued by its ultra-provocative sway, while as a fan of poetry I find its verses to be as cerebral and genuine as they should be in this era. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to see more from this act sooner than later, and their reputation around the PNW backs that up.
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