Taking musical cues from the pioneering and noisey activists of the 70s, 80s and 90s, the musical sound and ethos of Brooklyn band Grim Streaker is punk through and through. The band emphasises the sounds of skate-punk, hardcore, and post-punk throughout their quick album No Vision, constructing a debut that showcases immense promise, even in a contemporary music landscape that is highly saturated with new, post-punk projects.
No Vision feels reminiscent of some of Minutemen’s “econo” philosophy of punk in that it is succinct and furious, and tracked live to capture lightning-like energy. The album is also incredibly short-lived, wasting zero time, and adding zero fat to the music. Grim Streaker know exactly what they want to say, no frills, accessories, or cushions required. No Vision is a series of flurries — the first four songs of the album fly by in under ten minutes, and the whole collection barely stretches beyond twenty. It is certainly an album that does not want to overstay its welcome and the brevity makes returning and relistening very accessible. That said, at a length that is shorter than many EPs, it is difficult not to want more from an album that has been in the making for nearly two years.
Album opener “A.D.D.” and the subsequent “Today New York” introduce the group’s raucous mixture of hardcore, garage-rock, and gothy post-punk. These songs also serve to introduce listeners to some of the album’s lyrical themes of unavoidable worry and anger in the never-stopping yet seemingly-never-progressing modern moment. “No” is an extremely short song that focuses on the theme of consent, flowing perfectly, and serving almost like an interlude to “Snakes”, a song that confronts the expectations felt by frontwoman Amelia Bushell from the world.
“Cat Call” is really the only song on the album that is built with an atmosphere — the song displays a constant and expanding feeling of indignation. Unlike the rest of the tracklist, it is allowed to intensely simmer instead of violently boiling. Lyrically the song encounters everyday misogyny, repeating disgusting and degrading phrases that women are subjected to. Being that these words are all too familiar, Bushell’s lyrics take some of the burdens away from the instrumental arrangements to carry the weight of attacking the listener’s senses. The length, lyrical straightforwardness, and its strategic placement right in the middle of the record make “Cat Call” the absolute centre of No Vision and a song that speaks to the themes of the whole of the album.
Highlights in the album’s back half include “Ascending”, which starts off mid-tempo but pivots as it bursts into a brief and ruthless, accelerating hardcore release that is one of the most extreme frenzies on the entire album. The album closer, “Heaven”, operates in a similar fashion structurally; however, at a whopping three-minutes long, it is allowed to dwell in relative stability for a bit longer before the halfway mark hits and chaos envelops.
Grim Streaker’s amalgamation of decades of punk music doesn’t necessarily change the game musically — what makes them distinct to the myriad of post-punk bands writing music today is their intense focus and energy. No Vision is a clear and concise political record that fills its short runtime with blistering anxieties and frustrations. Bushell fights and screams in the name of female empowerment into the often hopeless void while the rest of the band serve as allies to her cause, boosting the message of the songs with vigorous noise. Grim Streaker’s strategy to create light in the darkness is to start a fire.