Advertisement: American Advertisement Album Review

Advertisement: American Advertisement Album Review

A few years ago, Advertisement might be the kind of band you’d catch three times in two days at South by Southwest, vibing to their frayed mid-1970s swagger and impulse-buying a cassette from the merch table despite having no way to play it. At some point in the sweaty haze, you might text your dad, telling him to put down the Greta Van Fleet and listen to this instead.

Such an encounter felt like a relic of the recent past even before the pandemic, but Advertisement’s self-released debut album captures the loose, pleasantly depraved energy of a DIY rock show well enough that you can almost smell the pot fumes from your couch. The band, comprising six childhood friends from the Seattle area, sounds like a rebellion against the city’s ballooning gentrification, armed with rickety instrumental textures and lyrics that evince a sly distrust of American ideals. The members have previously been involved in West Coast hardcore bands like Nasti and Vacant Life, and Advertisement’s 2018 EP reflected that lineage. But on American Advertisement, they slow the tempos and deliver an uncommonly melodic brand of vintage sleaze-rock with frazzled grooves and dueling guitars.

The riffs consummate this transformation, from the slide-guitar grit of “Pretty Money”—an absurdist send-up of capitalism that the band has dubbed “Marxist-cosplay pastiche”—to the melodic wah-wah psychedelia of “Tall Cats.” Wiry-voiced lead singer Charlie Hoffman has mastered the art of sounding like he couldn’t care less, which suits the material well. At times he resembles a young Iggy Pop on a country kick, though the closest Advertisement comes to Stooges-style anarchy is on the breakdown at the end of “Always,” the record’s eight-minute climax. “Freedom,” another lengthy track, rides a krautrock-inspired groove, but its motorik intensity is an awkward match for this band’s cheeky lyrics and irreverent spirit.

Most punk bands wait until album number three or four before they start dabbling in Crazy Horse sprawl and citing the Grateful Dead as an influence, but Advertisement’s attitude seems to be, why wait? They do a fine approximation of Laurel Canyon twang on country-rock brooders like “Days of Heaven” and “Shipwrecked Hearts,” broadening the band’s hard-rock pedigree, and when monotony starts to set in on Side B, the aforementioned “Always” is a welcome jolt.

If you liked The Men more when they rented a cabin in the Catskills and swerved into rustic psychedelia, chances are you’ll like this, too. Advertisement are better lyricists, too, with a knack for surrealist vignettes that distort and pervert American fantasies. Consider the flurry of imagery near the end of “Always,” in which Hoffman calls out to “dressage stallions with erections half-mast” skipping through rings of fire for a cheering crowd. “It’s only the American zen,” the singer mutters, babbling like a prophet as the song accelerates into nightmarish cacophony. In Advertisement’s vision of American zen, grim soothsaying is delivered with a wink and a grin.


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