Everything Is A Mess provides all of the rebellious, righteous rage one would expect from an album with a song titled Fuck Cops. But, despite the predictable levels of fury, the record pleasantly surprises too; there is something genuinely original going on in Fist City’s swirling sludge of a sound. Kurt Vile might have announced the death of the punk ideal back in 2013, but bands with Fist City’s level of talent and commitment prove him very, very wrong.
Though the sentiments expressed throughout Everything Is A Mess are age old – discontented anti-authoritarian anthems dominate, while the odd few slacker ballads slip through – one never gets the sense that Fist City are a band trying on a series of punk ideals the way one would try on a leather studded jacket. The aforementioned Fuck Cops bristles like a rabid dog, and though Shotgun starts slowly, with a series of lolloping chords, it eventually explodes with the intensity of a nail bomb. Fist City haven’t settled on a tone of edgy, paranoid disillusionment because it’s cool, or it’ll sell them more records. They’ve made music this intense because it’s the music that means the most to them.
But despite the legacy of punk and post punk the band make reference to throughout Everything Is A Mess, they frequently push the genre boundaries. As scabrous as their sound gets, there is always a dash of surfer rock thrown into the mix for good measure. The violent Rats throbs with a pop hook, and the six minute The Mess dashes from touchstone to touchstone over the course of its six minutes, drawing on influences as diverse as Sonic Youth, Don Caballero, and psych rock.
The road Fist City take to their point of cathartic outrage is jagged then, criss crossing over the borders of genre as it goes. The soundscapey interludes that dot the piece are almost like moments of respite; they break up the pace, in order to ensure things can return and renew with an even greater level of intensity.
Perhaps best of all, like so many great cries of protest, Everything Is A Mess remains ultimately optimistic. The unspoken happy ending that closes out the album’s last song, The Mess, is that no matter how fucked up the world might become, the act of rebellion is still full of creative and philosophical potential. It’s a brilliant, caustic, jolt of adrenaline; a trip through our own contemporary hell that concludes with a gaze at the stars.