As the Minutemen's Mike Watt once observed, a good song title is worth a thousand lyrics. With Gaytheist, that advice is well-heeded: Lest anyone feel fatigued by the bulldozing punk-metal trio's prodigious output—Hold Me…But Not So Tight, the band's fourth album, comes just eight months after its third—there's no way youâre not listening to a song called âPoocanoâ or âElderly Assassin.â
Clocking in at less than 30 minutes, the record doesn't leave the group a lot of room to expound, anyway. Brevity begets economy, and the band makes the most of its running time. Hold Me leans closer to the punk end of Gaytheist's conjoined-genre attack, the coiled thwack of last year's Stealth Beats unfurling into warp-speed thrash. It's more melodic, too, lending singer-guitarist Jason Rivera's sneering absurdity an even sharper bite. His sarcasm and black humor has curdled into a more direct kind of cynicism: On the opening 34-second broadside "Starring in 'The Idiot,'" Rivera confesses to feeling at once surrounded and "desperately alone," introducing an album whose rage is directed most pointedly at the crushing alienation of the Digital Age. "60 Easy Payments" skewers the consumerist craving for "the latest gadget-y, gizmo-y gobbledygook," while "MANhattan" describes a metropolis where people don't dare speak to one another, for fear of interrupting each other's tweeting.
It might sound a bit dire, but as a statement of worldview, Hold Me explains a lot about Gaytheist—why the band plays so furiously, why it gives songs titles like "Wisdom of the Asshole," even why it would give itself a name like Gaytheist: In a time where everyone is plugged in, detached and distracted, attention must be grabbed by any means necessary.