The Coathangers’ past existence was purposefully—and gloriously—weird. Each of the three members have a unique voice (all perform vocals) but also a distinctive writing style and sonic mission. The trio’s past works embraced the mix of garage rock, surf pop, post-punk, and a gritty, melodic pop sensibility, but instead of blending it all into a cohesive whole, the results were intentionally disjointed.
The result was riveting if a tiny bit disorienting. The Devil You Know, funny enough, finds the band dipping their collective toes into unknown waters and putting their influences into a blender rather than a bowl – the individual flavors are all here in spades, but they are mixed together so well and so fluidly that it creates a more integrated whole.
Make no mistake, The Coathangers are still proudly odd, but The Devil You Know is more electric because of the unity of purpose. Songs are lively and melodic yet driving and buoyant. The album’s collective rage feels more unified, too. With a name like that, this trio does not shy from inflammatory opinions, but The Devil You Know feels more empathetic than emphatic (save for “F the NRA” naturally) than past works. That song is, of course, a serious success; the lack of nuance only makes the urgency of the message that more impactful.
Overall, The Coathangers’ wise decision to intermingle their talents rather than divide and conquer results in the group’s best record to date. There are a lot of similarly minded garage punk acts around, but few are so playful in their anger, so acerbic, as these hangers of jackets.