Satisfact – Satisfact

3 out of 5

Label: K Records

Produced by: John Goodmanson

Interesting but limited.

Satisfact arrived with some quality K / Up Records bonafides – Jeremiah Green on drums; Matt Steinke on guitar and vocals – and they strike up an appealing atonal punky sound fitting for the time and those labels, criss-crossing odd synth lines with squonky guitar licks, pre-figuring more popular synth pop by, like, a decade or so.

But those bonafides carry something of a taint of “side project” as well, with Steinke often sticking to a Joy Division-esque plaintive vocal style and synth-player Chad States sometimes employing counterpoints just to be counterpoints. In other words, Satisfact have a particular sound, and it’s definitely very grabbing at first, but also rather keeps their tonal range within certain confines. A handful of these tracks, catchy as they are, feel somewhat interchangeable – robo vocals, a bouncy riff, electro-sounding percussion, and a weird synth line. Much more exciting is when the group releases the off-kilter veneer a bit and plays more into a traditional K / Up indie rock sound – such as the conclusion of Demonstration – or just leans fully into pop, as on the funking instrumental Four Sided (though the album then seems to brashly veer away from that with the ear-splitting feedback of the 48-second untitled closing track).

John Goodmanson’s generally flush pop-rock sound helps ground this, with Joshua Warren’s bass a warm mainstay throughout, but there’s also this need to forefront the angular-ness of the sound, which sort of balances that out to a flatline. Satisfact, a track at a time, is a lot of fun, and the group lets loose with some appreciative blasts where they drop their shtick and just play together, but it’s ultimately somewhat limited by that shtick.