By Jacob Carter
If you have never listened to Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs before, the best primer for the band is to watch their video for “Talk 2 Her,” from their new self-titled album, out July 28th. Good music videos often encapsulate the spirit of a band, and this one is no exception: goofy dance numbers, 70’s guitar hooks, and Coffey’s bombastic vocals contribute to a song about a plot point from a high school movie. Both the video and Coffey’s new album have a charm that’s inescapably fun.
Coffey and his band of Toronto locals teamed up with Burger Records for the American release of their third LP. The band is a welcome addition to Burger Records’ roster, which has quickly grown to include some of the most promising artists in the modern punk/indie/lo-fi scene.
Every song on Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs is driven forward at a mile a minute by meaty guitar riffs and catchy synth melodies that underscore Coffey’s distinctive howling. Every song feels like a love letter to a 70’s or 80’s rock classic, but the band is more interested in making glam rock kitsch their own than wallowing in nostalgia. “Talk 2 Her” calls to mind the Rolling Stones, while songs like “Teenage Release” sound rooted in early-era MC5. While Coffey’s earlier releases were confident in their own sound, this new album feels more cohesive. Songs like “Ragnarok” are distinctly modern, but are able to fit well with the rest of the album. S/T always feels inspired by the past, and never like it is ripping it off.
Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs are always in touch with their juvenile selves. “Teenage Release” is a song with an obvious surface meaning, but as Coffey shouts, “darkness all around you, teenage release,” it reminds you that staying in touch with your younger self can inform and help you get through life even as an adult. Everyone is just a kid on the inside, so pretending like you are not is only going to hurt you. To Coffey and his band, adolescence is something that you can learn a lot from, and it is a place you go when you need to unwind.
Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs is comfort food. It is fun to listen to, and its peppy, upbeat message can lift you out of a dark place through sheer willpower alone.