Of all the Brooklyn bands to find saline solace in the jagged charms of the Pixies, Slint and Gang of Four (and that is not as small a universe as one might expect), this trio catches the flux of enflamed brio like experienced surfers, riding the sturm und clang with confidence.
They didn’t get a handle on it right away: the six tracks on the group’s first six-song EP (which pictures the ominous front of a Flxible bus) are strong, atmospheric and occasionally rip-snorting rock, something like the ’90s Chicago skronk school (without the metal guitar picks), but more about songs than concentrated noise. That’s hardly a criticism, but in light of the group’s subsequent work, it’s a bit off-target for them. In “Chinese Dancer,” for instance, which shifts from thrashing (but carefully syncopated) chaos to stripped-down vocal passages, the most striking element (amid such things as singer Paul Fuster’s toy piano tinkles) is his varied enunciation of the line “I want to see you naked.”
The second six-song EP (the cover is an orange and black drawing that either illustrates centrifugal motion or a 19th century game) weld Fuster’s wavery declamations to Jarrod Ruby’s clampdown drumming and a guitar-bass contraption (which the band calls a “Gass”) wielded by Aron Sanchez. For all its air-displacement power, however, PP omits the angst typical of such fervor in favor of musical depth, ingenuity and the sonic confidence to let near-silence (or the charming tone of toy piano) do some of their blasting. The occasional onslaught pegs Proton Proton in certain stylistic universe, but obvious orthodoxy is not for them. Even when jabbing like a junkie poking a stick at a junkyard dog through a chain-link fence, the band never loses its connection to thoughtful beauty, which makes the songs more three-dimensional than a lot of more ambitiously produced rock music. Intelligent punk with a strong heart.