The summer of 2008 remains vivid in my mind. I spent it working as an intern in the intellectual property department of a Philadelphia law firm; my boss didn’t give me enough work to keep me busy, so I spent a lot of time reading the news at my computer.

The headlines were panic-inducing that summer. The world economy was collapsing, and the Dow swung by hundreds of points virtually every day. The price of oil rose to unprecedented heights. Wars raged in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I spent a lot of time listening to Hungry for Nothing, Fight Amp’s debut album from earlier that year. Its flailing take on 90s noise rock fit that summer’s vibe—wild-eyed, but more scared than scary.

In the years since, the national mood has shifted from the terror of free-fall to grim resolve. People have realized that things aren’t getting better any time soon, so they’re hunkering down. Belts are tight. Brows are furrowed.

Fight Amp, too, now play from a defensive crouch. Birth Control, their third album, is pure gristle. The band has throttled back the tempos substantially relative to their first two albums. They now sound even more like Unsane than they did before—the lumbering pace, caustic tones and howl-sung vocals beg for the comparison. Fight Amp’s rhythm section is tricksier, though. Their riffs don’t always turn around the way you expect them to, and the threat of speedy sections hangs in the air.

Fight Amp have modulated their core sound to reflect a different mood without abandoning that sound. This is no mean feat, especially for a band working with such sparing ingredients. The dominant emotion on Birth Control is not fear, but disgust: explicitly on “Should’ve Worn Black,” which declares that “Even empty / This town disgusts me.” Perhaps I’m projecting, but if I am, it’s onto a suggestive canvas. I can feel Fight Amp’s nauseated trudge in my gut whenever I read the headlines.

— Doug Moore

Fight Amp - "Creepy Kicks"

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Translation Loss (CD/Vinyl)

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