At best, the EP is a misunderstood, wondrous short form sampling of a band’s experimentation between full-length albums. At worst, it’s a disc of cutting room floor material that should have stayed in the waste bin. Double Dagger’s Masks EP is not only the former; it’s one of the better post-punk collections to land in my iTunes in a while.
While “Song for S” is an interlude jam, “Imitation Is The Most Boring Form of Flattery” brings to mind a mix of math rock and a late ‘90s punk rock show in a Midwestern all-ages venue. Strange reference? I was there. It’s the best comparison I know.
“Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing” is a high-energy screamfest with a confusing metaphor about surprising everyone with your understated, underdeveloped potential. “I’m gonna be the next big thing/A sheep in wolf’s clothing” repeats the chorus, causing me to wonder: am I already wearing the wolf’s clothing? Then why would I aspire to conformity?
Clocking in at six minutes, “Sleeping With The TV On” sounds like Slint’s “Good Morning, Captain” meets Fugazi’s The Argument. Punk is known for ridiculously short tracks, but the very existence of post-punk breaks that rule. Double Dagger do right by this epic-length lover with a ballad about dual lives wrapped in shouts about sleeping in the screen’s glow and not wanting to go home. I listened to the six minutes of angst and frustration on repeat for days.
For design geeks in the know, it’s possible to confuse the Double Dagger punk trio with the typography of the same name—or with the design company, Post Typography, which is run by the band’s vocalist Nolen Strals and bassist Bruce Willen. The name seems like a nod to post-punk, and I am once again reminded—my writer/animal caretaker self—that doing what you love can mean multiple manifestation of the same creative spirit. The team even wrote a manifesto that begins, “Typography is dead. You have killed it.” Even if you state your politics front and center, you can succeed in this world. A message of hope in a post-hope era.