Compound Red: Always a Pleasure

Always a Pleasure
Always a Pleasure
Genre: Emo
Label: DeSoto
Producer: J. Robbins
Release Year: 1998
Listen: Spotify / Apple Music

I feel like there’s definitely some revisionist history on most of this era of Midwest emo. As if bands like Compound Red were actually popular amongst the normies back in 1998 and not just some offshoot of an offshoot. Because I’m pretty sure I mail-ordered this record through DeSoto and was most definitely the only person I knew who owned it. And I thought the shit was cool. And so did the other music hipster shithead writers. But now? Oh no, owning and listening to this stuff is like stepping in dog shit and tracking it into your girlfriend’s parents’ house. And all those claiming this nonsense through their 2020s lens deny the emotional, loud-soft-loud earnestness they once praised in their late 90s guitar music. Hypocrites, man.

And, look, I’m not going to go to my grave defending this album. But it’s really decent. It gives you all that kind of immediacy and gut-punch soaring vocal pleading that you want from your post-hardcore, math rock, chimey rock ‘n’ roll. That semi-controlled chaos of build and crash and build and build and build. The kind of music that sounds like there are maybe seven dudes in the band and they’re all playing at once. With the song structures to match. Most of the drum parts are just a litany of fills and while one guitar picks out riffs, the other just chugs and chugs. Or maybe two chug and chug. And it sounds like maybe one dude is playing jazz and the other is playing hard rock and the next is just going hard in his post-hardcore projections. And, honestly, the first time I heard this back in the old millennium, I was overwhelmed by all of it. But then I sat down and listened over and over and began to appreciate the album’s lack of traditional hooks and its focus on just absolute madness.

I suppose the complaint is that the must doesn’t vary much from track to track. Because it’s so dense and so layered. But if you do familiarize yourself with the record, you’ll not only come to understand and appreciate it, but also recognize that this take is a canard. This is an excellent example of the thing that these revisionists once claimed to enjoy. Don’t let time and Brooklyn attitudes ruin that which was once decent and good. You know you fuckin’ rocked out to this record when you were 25. So don’t let your middle-aged bitterness tell you that your taste has progressed that far. It hasn’t, and you still secretly rock this album in the solace of your second bedroom while the kids TikTok and your wife wonders where your hairline went.