Release date: June 22, 2018
Loud-mouthed, aggressive and sincere, Limitations is a triumphant sophomore album from NEEDS. With the intensity of hardcore, the introspection of art-punk, and the creativity of post-hardcore, this is one record Vancouver’s punk fans shouldn’t miss out on. While 2015’s self-titled LP was solid, the band has really come into its own with Limitations.
In an excellent interview with Bandcamp, Orr talks about how his sense of social justice is informed by his family’s history. (Orr’s father left Northern Ireland because his views on Irish Nationalism were at odds with his own father.) He tells Bandcamp: “My dad always taught us to stick up for the marginalized and for the underprivileged.”
That really shines through on Limitations. It doesn’t just sound great, the band actually has something to say on the album. NEEDS covers social concerns on this very class-conscious record. At the same time, they avoid the basic anarcho-socialist sloganeering of many punk bands.
Instead, the songs are thoughtful, and a dash of humour keeps Limitations from becoming pompous. That self-awareness is explicitly touched upon on ‘Endless Idiotic Shots of the Sun,’ which has Orr screaming, “I live with this contradiction every day […] I’m angry. But I’m grateful that I can afford to be angry. I hate consumer culture, but I just love going for brunch.”
Kicking off with ‘Rock Day, North Dakota,’ this record will have you nodding along right from the word go. Starting off relatively slow, it isn’t long before NEEDS dials up the speed and intensity. The band really knows how to use tempo changes to keep the listener on their toes and highlight different elements.
Both ‘Rock Day, North Dakota’ and the second track, ‘Everybody Makes Me Steaks,’ remind me of other local hardcore/post-hardcore bands Anchoress and BRASS (who are incidentally two of my favourites). Like those bands, NEEDS serves up pounding beats and chanted vocals that a crowd can easily get swept up in — making for a fantastic live experience.
With the third track. ‘Sutton Who,’ NEEDS slows things down, taking a sudden dip into post-punk territory. After the two manic, spittle-flecked tracks, it’s extremely effective. Menacing and ominous, I’d call ‘Sutton Who’ a standout track on the album if they weren’t all so damn good.
It’s that ability to mix things up, to explore different genres, influences, tempos across Limitations‘ 12 tracks that really elevates this album. There is absolutely no monotony. Instead, listening to the record is a cohesive journey. That experience is also deepened by reading the series of essays vocalist Sean Orr wrote to accompany each track.
Limitations by NEEDS is available from June 22 on File Under: Music. Grab the digital album on Bandcamp, or order it on black, red, or signed vinyl via the label’s website. Enjoy a raucous live performance by NEEDS at the record release show on June 22 at SBC.