In a music world healthily saturated with post-punk bands, Philly group Mesh feel like an island unto themselves. The band’s sound arrives so fully formed, it’s difficult to believe it started as a bedroom project, with vocalist and songwriter Sims Hardin first releasing a handful of demos back in 2019. Since then, he’s recruited Steve Darling on drums, Allison Durham on guitar and vocals, and Tom Riese on bass, a combination of players who turn Hardin’s songs into a blast of muscular and zany post-punk that expands upon that previous work with ease.
Nowhere on their self-titled debut is the upgrade more obvious than on “Company Jeep,” where the band juxtaposes steely instrumentation against Hardin’s absurd take on the everyday hell of a 9 to 5. “One of these days you’re going to lose it/ You’re going to lose your cool,” he sings, sounding like a particularly snotty corporate minion. The shaky drum machine that backed the original demo has been replaced by jagged drumming from Darling, transporting “Company Jeep” from good to great almost instantly.
Though the band’s playing is tight and dynamic, Hardin’s gift for crackpot lyricism provides moments of levity that cut through the tension. “CIA Mind Control” might be the best example of this, as it could be reasonably described as what would result if Wire became obsessed with conspiracy theories. The clamor of “Ur Dead” has a similarly humorous effect––at one point, Hardin sings about wanting to sniff glue––but it quickly progresses into the catchiest song on the EP, referencing a classic Joy Division hook with care. In just 13 minutes, Mesh achieve an almost mathematical balance of droll humor and quintessential post-punk sounds, and prove themselves to be a stand-out group among the many treading similar musical ground.