Now that punk rock has gone around the block a few times and collected little generic influences like a lint brush, it’s understandable how some fans may be hard-pressed to recognize it anymore. That’s why a release like The Complicators‘ “Wake Up” 7-inch is so refreshing though. It grunts, it grinds and it stomps but, most importantly, it sticks to the core tenets that the music started with: frustration and urgency.
As soon as the needle touches down and “Wake Up” opens the A-side of the single, many listeners will feel compelled to sit down immediately, as they would do when their father winds up to read them the riot act. From that moment, listeners know what’s coming: bassist Sean Smith lays out a lean but taught bass part which batters forward ceaselessly after it begins, and guitarist Mark Garcia breaks in before long to ass some more scuff to the exact same figure.
The power between the two players is impressive, but it only gets better when drummer Radu Pollac takes the amalgam up a notch and crams it down listeners’ collective throat. That kind of incursion is impressive, but the whole game changes that ever-so-important extra bit when Quincy Atkinson comes charging forth like a beast. Suddenly (with lines like “Wake up! Put your boots on/You’ve worked your fingers to the bone”) The Complicators take listeners back to the old-school and show them that being new is great, but some things don’t need to be improved. Punk rock like this works best as it does right here; no frills and no bullshit – just power hard and then close it all down when the point’s been made.
The B-side of the single adheres to the exact same form the A-side put forth, but crams double the number of songs into just under four minutes. First, “The Next One” lives up to its name as it screeches through with even crunchier and more caustic guitars than “Wake Up” featured. The song blazes like a live wire through its frustrated two-minute tirade about just being a workin’ man (lyrics complain about each day starting early and being the same as the last, but cannot end because “It’s my job to keep a sinkin’ ship afloat”) and collapses petulantly to close. But listeners won’t be done with it yet. The urge to lift the needle from the single and play through it again is impossible to escape – it’s the best anthem for the workin’ man since Mike McColgan left The Dropkick Murphys.
That point would be an easy highpoint to close on, but this single keeps the working-class power up and running for another minute and forty-five seconds with one more defiant statement, “I Will.” The thing about the third and final track on this single is that it doesn’t do a whole lot other than reiterate the same themes “Wake Up” and “The Next One” did, but listeners will find themselves thrilled beyond the capacity articulate properly that there’s more and how good it feels – it’s empowering, even.
After just these three songs (which play through in seven minutes flat!), listeners will find themselves energized and looking for more to hear from The Complicators. They’ll be hooked because, contrary to the band’s name, the three songs on this single aren’t complicated at all – and that’s easy to appreciate. Buy this single if you’ve ever felt overlooked and unappreciated – you’ll be left feeling like you’re not alone after listening, and it will feel pretty fuckin’ good.