Beginning “The Endless Retreat” with a straight-forward punk assault, albeit with more harmony than the early punk bands that influenced the track, the Modern Day Urban Barbarians spare no time into getting into fast melodies and ever more chaotic breakdowns. Moving from “T.V.” to “Waiting For A Break”, MDUB show over and over that their music is a direct descendent from the Stooges and the Velvet Underground, being strained through a fine mesh of Can and Wire. With vocals aurally similar to early David Byrne, Devin gives the disc two major things: a smoother polish and a more audible sense of harmony. While each of the songs on “The Endless Retreat” has the same breakneck approach and chaotic nature, the fact is that every track on the disc are different enough so that the experience is never repetitive. The brief forays into a Ramones / Iggy Pop-style of vocal inflection, such as in “Pop Culture Casualties”, are the true gems of the disc – being able to maintain the otherworldly noise of the rest of the disc, MDUB are able to make something that is accessible even to the most fair-weather music listener.
Moving up to the walking bass lines of “Slaves”, Devin’s vocals are tempered with this go around to sound more like John from TMBG and Jello from the Dead Kennedys. The thrash-punk of the track breaks the track really breaks the sound out from the somewhat compressed recording of the disc, and for a brief moment, the band sounds as if they are playing in my living room. Pretty much the only thing to mar the perfection that is “The Endless Retreat” is the extremely repetitive distortion of the guitar lines on “Outer Space”, acting more as a grating force than actually furthering the song in any meaningful way.
If “The Endless Retreat” was released in 1978 or 1979, the album would have been considered one of the most influential of all time. However, in 2003 (when this album came out), the album is still strong, but will never get the popularity it rightfully deserves. “The Endless Retreat” is a Bacchanalian orgy of noises, incredible speed, and brief flashes of harmony that make the album something more than a clattering collection of random parts. The Modern Day Urban Barbarians are the purveyors of a music that is just as valid and vibrant over twenty years after the first practitioners made their first forays into the genre, and MDUB does it quite well.
Top Tracks: TV, Pop Culture Casualties
Modern Day Urban Barbarians – The Endless Retreat / 9 Tracks / 2003 South 6. Prod / http://www.mdub.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / Reviewed 21 April 2004