This month, Providence punk outfit Downtown Boys drop their latest album, Cost of Living. The new record is a follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed Full Communism and their first since signing on to seminal indie label Sub Pop Records in March. The production has taken a big step forward – the band has never sounded better – but the mission remains unchanged; Downtown Boys haven’t sacrificed the wild energy or up-tempo rage that have long been hallmarks of their live performances and propelled them well beyond the hometown scene. That energy is aimed squarely at familiar targets (racism, fascism, queerphobia) but in the time since the release of Full Communism, these targets seem both more insidious and more visible than ever.
Cost of Living delivers on what fans have come to expect from Downtown Boys: danceable punk rock, E Street Band horns and bilingual demands for social justice. Victoria Ruiz’s howling vocals switch between English and Spanish (because punk isn’t just for disaffected suburban white teenagers), ensuring that each song is a rallying cry for anyone feeling the crushing weight of the powers that be. Cost of Living’s first track, “A Wall,” is an opening salvo aimed at one of the current administration’s greatest hits, pointing out that it takes more than bricks and mortar to kill the human spirit. As Ruiz defiantly points out, “A wall is a wall, and nothing more at all.” Don’t miss Downtown Boys’ release show at Aurora on August 11.