Album of the Day: Permit, “Vol. 1”

Barreling from start to finish in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee, Vol. 1 from Indiana duo Permit crams a truckload of hooks into songs the size of a Smart car. Not one of them crosses the two-minute mark, and that’s to the record’s great benefit: rocketing from verse to chorus and back again, Permit have figured out the trick to writing pop songs is to double-down on the melody; everything else is just window dressing.

A side project of Drew Auscherman of Hoops, Permit trades that band’s laid-back, meditative indie-rock for power and velocity. “Track #1” (apparently, they don’t have time for song titles either) revs up hiccupping anxiety pop to light speed, guitars jittering away frantically vocals morose and mournful. “I’m having trouble moving on,” goes the chorus, just a few seconds before the band does just that. “Track #2” shrinks the swagger of Thin Lizzy-style radio rock to thimble size, the blistering riffs sounding so synthetic they could soundtrack Spy Hunter. Even though the songs are compact, they still find space to spread out: “Track #4” is laced up with a boot-stomping country-fried guitar riff, and the whispery, subdued vocal melody on “Track #6” contrasts beautifully with the blown-out, in-the-red instrumentation. Vol. 1’s 11th hour release date makes it the perfect salve for an often wearying year: turn off your brain, turn up the volume; repeat as necessary.

J. Edward Keyes

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