Break the wall down with Downtown Boys' third album, Cost of Living.Sub Pop, 2017
7.0 / 10
Downtown Boys‘ third album, Cost of Living has many great qualities about it. First, there’s the album’s narrative. Downtown Boys seek to smash racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism, and boredom, so their songs confront these topics head on. Of course, none of these songs would be effective if the band didn’t have energy. This brings us to the band’s second best quality — their performances. Singer Victoria Ruiz is a fireball of energy and her vocals land with the ferocity of a thousand fists. Combine her talent with the band’s springy guitar riffs, plentiful drums, and the occasional saxophone for a wild experience. But perhaps the album’s best quality is that the songs are catchy.
Album opener “A Wall” delivers several lines that stick — “You can’t pull the plug on us!” But its sentiment carries greater power in that Downtown Boys’ members represent Chicana and Latino voices, which often go ignored. Especially by the individuals screaming, “Build the wall!” Well, I promise you that Downtown Boys can be just as loud. This is a band that doesn’t want its words to fall on deaf ears. Here, Ruiz pushes for listeners to take charge and fight back against the powers that be. “We’re inside crying all day/ Who wins?” she sings on “Lips That Bite”, a song that recalls the actions of many after Trump’s election. Downtown Boys’ message may not connect with all listeners, but there will be those who won’t allow the bad guys to win.