Meet Turnstile, the hardcore band taking the internet by storm
Last Friday, Baltimore based cult followed hardcore band Turnstile released their album, ‘GLOW ON’. The bands now gone from dominating an underground circuit to now one of Twitter’s favourite talking points. The band was formed in 2010 based in Baltimore’s emerging hardcore scene at the time, and are now sitting at five EPs and three studio albums.
Turnstile began the album rollout for ‘GLOW ON’ they released package single, or mini EP, ‘Turnstile Love Connection’. A collection of four tracks, packaged as a mini project and teaser for the forthcoming longer record alongside a gorgeous short film directed by the bands vocalist, Brendan Yates. This mini-project was their first release since their 2018 record, ‘Time and Space’. The film opens with ‘HOLIDAY’, a heavy hardcore ballad. Sharp guitar riffs pair with evocative vocals, with its ethos an attempt to find peace in the eternal unknown that is existence. It says a lot about their ethos as a band, they’ve always rejected the notion of normal. Including, the genre boundaries, and glass ceilings associated with their much beloved, and always appreciative of Baltimore hardcore scene.
“For Turnstile, there is no normal, only their truth, and the endless possibility of magic when you remain open to the truth of others; singing praise to the infinite mysteries of the universe,” they said in a press release for the release of Turnstile Love Connection.
While they’ve always been tapping and seeing through the cracks of hardcores glass ceiling, it was this release that smashed the ceiling into a million of pieces. From sitting on the Billboard charts, now on a major label under Roadrunner, and support from the likes of Pitchfork, The New York Times, The Guardian, you name it, the band began to light the internet by storm.
Then came the record, ‘GLOW ON’, which is currently taking the internet by storm. Take critical reviews from the likes of Pitchfork giving the album an 8.4, NME 5 stars, or an Anthony Fantano review of 8. This alone has pricked the ears of music heads across the world, but there’s something truely different about this record. I personally have never listened to hardcore music or its associated genres, but there’s something about ‘GLOW ON’ that sticks out as different.
The band enlisted Mike Elizondo, known as Dr Dre’s prodigy to co-produce the record alongside lead singer, Brendon Yates. Some of his production credits include the likes of Eminem and Fiona Apple. They also collaborate on the record with Blood Orange for two tracks. The first of these was also the albums lead single, ‘ALIEN LOVE CALL’. With the track, Turnstile dig deep into the sonic territory of their collaborator. A spaced out, wavy R&B jam, featuring big emotional vocal performances, and a spoken word outro by Dev Hynes. On the albums closer, they return the creative exchange, with Hynes entering the hardcore world of Turnstile, a sound he hasn’t touched or been involved with since his band, Test Icicles.
The albums opener, ‘MYSTERY’ begins with ambient, arpeggiated synths, before erupting in a nostalgia driven, aggressive yet highly accessible cut. As the track enters its final third, it’s emotional depth significantly increases. The guitar solo screams a nostalgic energy of celebration. Whether finishing a final year of school, reflecting on an epic holiday, or coming home after an incredible party, ‘MYSTERY’ bottles up these heavy emotions into a mere 2 minutes and 35 seconds.
The record is littered with the classic Turnstile formula. Short, sharp adrenaline rush tracks . From lock down double sided anthem, ‘HUMANOID / SHAKE IT UP’, to the rapid, at your throat ‘T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION)’, to the syncopated almost reggae style rhythm of ‘DON’T PLAY’, every track on the record serves a specific purpose. On all of them, singer Brednon Yates showcases his incredible top line ability. With his vocal, he toes the line between introspection, while also leaving his lyrics up for interpretation. With his performances he contemplates what truely being alive is, how does expressing love and affection effect our experience of life, what does feeling alive mean?. “I believe in holding on to life/But I’m afraid to”, he sings on the albums opener.
Sitting alongside infectious, euphoric choppy guitar tracks such as ‘Blackout’ sits some almost, indie alternative, beach ready jams. ‘UNDERWATER BOI’ is a summer ready, soulful vibe, one perfect in Australia’s market and taste in rock music. It’s spacey and psyched out, with playful lyrics and simple structure making it an early favourite for listeners entering the genre thanks to their discovery of Turnstile. Track 12, ‘NEW HEART DESIGN’ also sees a turn into this sound, juxtaposing the tracks mega chorus with a toe tap worthy, and chord driven verse section. The record is dreamy, it’s punky, it’s hardcore. It’s reverb heavy production combined with catchy hooks and a clear emotive presence make this thing extremely infectious. At the same time, despite these features and the calming presentation of the artwork, the record still hits in all the right places, serving their new and original fans alike.
‘GLOW ON’ is an ambitious body of work that is as loud as it is inviting. With it, they play with unique textures, classic hardcore tropes, blending them together with a level of euphoria, found in power pop. The sonics combine perfect with the albums emotional layers, creating the perfect melting pot for a universally adored, rock album. It’s no surprise the internet is eating this thing up.
Words by PARRY TRITSINIOTIS