Lots of things can fuel a raucous punk sing-a-long. Anger, of course — there's a surfeit of it these days, it seems — but also joy, camaraderie, resilience. The motivations behind the gang vocals that punctuate punk's cacophony are myriad. For Iron Chic, a Long Island band born from the ashes of the legendary Latterman nearly a decade ago, these call-and-response chants have almost invariably professed an eternal struggle: that of unwavering, existential dread.
In the four years since its last full-length, 2013's The Constant One, Iron Chic has strived and struggled, signing to SideOneDummy, one of late punk's most storied and influential record labels and continuing to inspire shout-alongs at their cathartic live shows. But in January last year, founding guitarist Rob McAllister died suddenly at the age of 36.
While it's rarely explicit, McAllister's death haunts every corner of You Can't Stay Here, the band's third album. In places, the weight of McAllister's absence seems to drag singer Jason Lubrano's gaze even further downward, inward, toward the metaphysical shadows in which Iron Chic has always existed. Iron Chic has always focused its energies on the war of life versus death.
On "Planes, Chest Pains and Automobiles," a three-minute, mid-paced punk churn — Iron Chic's musical calling card — Lubrano muses, with a tinge of humor, that there must really be something wrong if your heart stops beating. "Here we are on Earth," he sings, "where we serve our terms, it hurts like hell, but we do it well." If there really were a god, the song continues, it could put an end to all of this — the suffering, the emptiness. But here we are, left with the pain of the world and our wavering ability to cope with it. In that sentiment is Iron Chic's true message: We might not have solace, or answers. But we have our feelings, and we have each other — and together, we'll sing.
You Can't Stay Here comes out Oct. 13 via SideOneDummy.