Cicada Radio: No Fate But What We Make

Good luck trying to grow up in New Jersey without at least interfacing with post-hardcore. It’s indigenous, and our local rock scene still swims in it well past its mainstream peak. So many of its current proponents are, for all their persistence, mysteriously unoriginal, but you can’t let that stop you from listening to Cicada Radio. The Kearny quartet are showing on their debut LP that they’re one of the few practitioners left who seem able to work past the genre’s touchstone-bands and give it a fat shot of personality.

While it’s certainly fast-moving and perpetually-loud, No Fate But What We Make flirts throughout with post-rock and shoegaze to great effect. Lead guitars summon wet, pitch-bendy atmosphere while rhythms flip from fuzzy chord barriers to anxious, meaty riffing. Singer Pat Keefe sounds just about ready to launch off the melodies and lose his mind, but the band behind him manages to let that urgency land with an unexpectedly light touch. It’s probably that half the album makes a tandem out of the earnest vocals and effervescent indie rock grooves to create something that’s never too bittersweet to be fun—“Charity Mafia” and “Oceans” are fine examples in that regard.

Other moments conjure the tremolo-picked, ocean-swell post of groups like Explosions In The Sky: “Lynn’s Song” gives it in epic cut-time, while “Always” alternates it with Jawbreaker-esque chug. If I’m picking a standout, it’s “Super Rabies,” which pushes the tempo and mood to a dramatic peak and lets Keefe unlock and lose his cool, if only for a split second. That one also best displays their stylistic tightrope walk, which reps a love of punk’s yesteryear while pulling it into a mature framework that can almost be thought of as pop. They’re the sort of band who’ll make you jones hard for new stuff.

In A Word: Sea-rock