Album Review: Geese – Projector

[Partisan; 2021]

The hype train for post-punk is working on overdrive in 2021 it seems. From the rippling debut For the first time by Black Country, New Road, to the bitter chaos of black midi’s sophomore Cavalcade, the genre has found itself again as a melting pot of talent. It’s not entirely like the 1970s boom, but it’s still overflowing with buzzy new bands taking tremendous risks that pay in healthy dividends.

Brooklyn quintet Geese have been trending upwards for what feels like an eternity – their debut single “Disco” crackled over the summer, placing them firmly in the conversation of post-punk prodigies. Now that Projector is here at last the comparisons that seemed apt with “Disco” can finally be expounded upon, many of which are completely justified.

We can move passed the obvious ones quickly – there’s a bit of Television, The Feelies, The Strokes, Interpol – hell, you could make a case of similarity to just about any post-punk band if you dig hard enough. There might be some Joy Division in there, some Gang of Four, some Suicide – the usual suspects.

But this is 2021, and no generic genre label can really define what bands like Geese are doing. Incorporating a vast array of influences, Geese are bridging the gap between the 1970s boom and the 2000s revival in ways that feel entirely new. Cameron Winter’s voice has a putty-like consistency, flexible, able to shift and bend to fit the direction his flock is going in.

On “Fantasies / Survival”, Geese’s instrumental interplay takes them to the further reaches of the galaxies and back through spiraling instrumental breakdowns while Winter’s malleable tone hits highs of Thom Yorke, but is grounded with some of Mark E. Smith’s characteristic vitriol. The extended outro doesn’t drone on, it simply builds to the next step, and every glorious second is worthwhile.

Geese soar the highest on Projector when they have open skies to spread their wings, reaching to the past and linking it to the future. This is “Disco” to a T, the woozy core to the album. It kicks things off like a “Hardest Button to Button” ruse, eventually transitioning to some Albert J. Hammond noodling, but arriving at this jaunty, breakdancing groove half-way through.

This is a band landing fully-formed on their debut, feeling entirely conscious of themselves and their craft, but using that to create a stand-out record, just like Is This It and Marquee Moon before them. Just like those previous generational giants, Geese are putting it all on the line right off the bat.

The 1970s and 2000s weren’t the only post-punk eras though, and Geese infuse Projector with throwbacks to debuts from Preoccupations and Ought on album introduction “Rain Dance”. While these influences are easy to trace, Geese are still reassembling them for their own purposes, and “Rain Dance” writhes around on the floor like a trout out of water gasping for life, all frenzied and desperate.

Projector is a wildly successful debut from New York’s newest post-punk torchbearers. They keep their audience on their toes constantly, right up to the closer “Opportunity is Knocking”, which is a prime example of their prowess. Beginning with another Strokesian riff, Geese build momentum for a catastrophic finale and deliver the goods in an almost Deerhunter via Monomania-like fashion, before abruptly pulling the plug, and ultimately leaving us wanting more.