Throwback Thursday — Rocket USA | Suicide


Michael Orbain

It’s no easy task to rival the duality of the punk duo, Suicide, whose music is brutal yet minimalistic. The duo is comprised of vocalist Alan Vega and keyboardist Martin Rev, whose chilling keyboard riffs and simple drumpad patterns provide a pulsing and austere setting for Vega’s muttering and on-edge vocals. Suicide’s music perfectly stimulates the cold and dark lifestyle of someone living in a dystopian wasteland. The band’s debut album, Suicide, while failing to chart upon release in 1977, has now been regarded as one of the most influential albums of its time. Suicide went on to influence several artists such as Swans, Autechre and Sonic Youth, yet more distinguishable artists like Bruce Springsteen, Devo and MGMT have all listed the band as a source for influence as well.

“Rocket USA” begins with a simple keyboard riff and a beating drum pattern that effectively tricks the listener into expecting some sort of explosion of musical sounds. However, this expectation quickly dies as Vega’s icy vocals are the only sound to accompany the isolating tone of Rev’s keyboard and drums — except for a seemingly random piano riff that interrupts the track and adds to the insanity. The song’s progression alters throughout, yet Vega’s pained vocals carry to the song’s end. “Rocket USA” provides a classic example of how Suicide has been able to prove you don’t need to be intricate and ostentatious to be an influential and hard-hitting music group.