Washington, DC’s Flasher describe their self-titled debut as a soundtrack to “what's happened to the city before and since.” Listening through the seven-track EP, the intention comes across pretty clearly. Flasher’s high-octane, new-wave sound captures pulsing urban energy perfectly, and the band’s lyrics, in aptly-named songs like “Tense” and “Throw It Away,” abound with anxiety. The resulting product is an often chaotic, though satisfying punk release that sonically dwells on darker aspects of modern life like feelings of meaninglessness, frustration, and despair, while sounding hopeful and empowering at the same time.
Flasher is comprised of bandmates Taylor Mulitz and Emma Baker, on guitar and drums respectively, who are both also members of the post-punk outfit Young Trynas. In Flasher, they’re joined by bassist Daniel Saperstein, pulled over from the bands Bless and Trouble. The newly-formed trio came together out of a desire to depart from each of their established sounds, though they clearly bring their collective experience and new wave inclinations to the fold. It’s easy to recognize a loose connection between Young Trynas and Flasher, for example, but certain nuances make them two completely different animals; while a Young Trynas song thrashes about with brash guitar riffs, Flasher’s sound is far more rhythmic and smooth.
This is particularly evident on tracks like “Make Out,” where we get a catchy guitar riff and even pace. Meanwhile, final track “Destroy” smacks of The Cure, with a melodic, bright tune. There’s a loose and liberated feel to the EP that seems a product of how this group came together. The trio are all good friends—it turns out Mulitz and Baker are actually roommates—and so Flasher feels unrestrained, as though they are producing music as much for themselves, and each other, as they are for any sort of wider audience. It all feels satisfyingly unaffected.
“Tense" is an effortless standout, beginning with a distorted bass line before a synth riff, which rings a little of Joy Division’s “Isolation,” smooths out the sound. Mulitz croons over the music while Saperstein accompanies with chants in the background. The co-vocalists meet with the line “Trying to reach through / Trying to get through.” The song gives the sense of standing amid an enormous crowd, yet you remain distant, safe and comfortable within your own head. It’s oddly soothing. Elsewhere, “Erase Myself” features delicate guitar plucking and subsequently soaring riffs that come off as invigorating, even optimistic, but Mulitz adds a dark angle with the lyric “I’ll erase myself / To release myself.”
Thoughtful lyricism paired with melodic solos, visceral instrumentation, and a very late-'70s/early-'80s lean give Flasher’s particular brand of punk a special air. With the band members tied to a number of other projects, it’s difficult to say whether we’ll be seeing more from this group, but for now their EP is a strong one-off that will hopefully lead to more releases.