Violence. Cloak/Dagger is all about violence and its the barely restrained display. Better make that unrestrained display: Listening to Lost Art is like enjoying ringside seats at a prolonged battle between a saber-toothed tiger and a giant spider: It’s pretty damn cool, but you may just be putting yourself in the line of danger should the situation get a little out of control.
Of course, that’s a perfect aura of danger in which to wrap yourself if you’re an underground punk act, and Cloak/Dagger do the garage/punk/rock’n'roll hybrid better than most and certainly meaner than just about all. Sounding like a surly, distempered cousin of Obits or Night Marchers, Cloak/Dagger whips out the vintage, clean-cut guitar tones and rips through a hyperactive and volatile that picks up right where 2007′s We Are (review) (Jade Tree) left off. That is, it’s kicking your head in and crashing forward.
Lost Art revives the dead art of punk songwriting. The sort of songwriting that’s unabashedly confrontational, hard on your ears by its very design and polarizing. Most of all it’s polarizing: Either you’ll feel Cloak/Dagger’s passion and hatred of all things mundane, or you’re the very thing its music wants to destroy. Heaven help you if you’re the latter.
If you’re the former, you’re in for a treat. "Billions Millions" slips a slinky guitar solo into a tune that’s otherwise all barked vocals, pummeling bass and rhythms with the all subtleties of a rocket-propelled grenade. "In My Orbit" and "Deathbed Rebels" work much the same angle, tackling tunes with all the rambunctious, coming-unwound-at-the-seams energy of punk while secretly making love to the pop credentials of a garage outfit. It’s not really a formula that’s hard to think up, but it’s one that’s hard to execute with all the ability Cloak/Dagger brings to this album.
Punk’s quickly skimming off the chaff that’s been the pop-punk and mall-punk layers as it branches back into the underground with more and more determination with each year. Lost Art should help the style find its center and regroup, as Cloak/Dagger love all those things that make all the best punk so great — and also anathema to mainstream success.