Athens, Georgia quartet Deep State offer a refreshing brand of punk-influenced indie rock on their latest album, The Fast Path To Oblivion.
There are thirteen tracks on The Fast Path, mostly brisk, instrumental guitar rock steeped in the kind of grind-it-out ethos familiar to anyone who watched 120 Minutes-era MTV. Deep State, on their fourth album now, have honed a sound that travels back in time to the 80s, to a dingy garage probably not unlike the one out back. This feels like underground rock, which contextualizes the sound in a way that is not uncomfortable.
The first few tracks on The Fast Path, “The Soft Room” and “Accomplice,” are really tight and urgently delivered. On “Time Unraveled,” the band utilizes vocals over another up-tempo sound full of surprisingly bright moments of garage rock influence. On “Dozer,” the dreamy, California rock mood conveys a blissed-out affect, but as nostalgic as The Fast Path To Oblivion might be, the album’s core concept falls flat in more than a few places.
You’ll know where that is by looking at song lengths. Any time the band stretches for more than a couple of minutes, the song lags. On “Ideals,” the tempo turns into a wistful one, but in that change, the band feels bland, which is the same thing I would say for “You Are The Worst Person I Know” and “Oblivion.” They are justifiably dreary, but they never pay that off, a fault that is tough for any band to redeem.
As much as I pine for the sweaty guitar rock sound, Deep State only offers it in places. That’s not to say that tracks like “Levitator” or “Bad Lines” won’t blow the top back on any drab January day, but when the band tries to get deep, it isn’t effective.