Injury Reserve – “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” review

This is the 4th mixtape from Arizona duo Injury Reserve. Originally coming together as a trio in 2013, it wasn’t until Floss & Drive It Like It’s Stolen where most people (myself included) really started tuning into them. It was really cool how the guys brought their own hardcore west coast sound to the table with a bit of an experimental edge that would later come full circle on their full-length debut a couple years back. But with the unexpected death of Stepa J. Groggs last summer, Ritchie with a T & Parker Corey are coming back together for By the Time I Get to Phoenix.

“Outside” is a 6-minute opener dabbling in electronics saying they’ve been talking to ’em kindly whereas “Superman That” takes a glitchier route going on about how there “ain’t no savin’ me or you”. ZelooperZ tags along for the guitar-driven “SS San Francisco” with him & Ritchie expressing their desire to not want to be there anymore just before “Footwork in a Forest Fire” reveals itself as amongst my favorite Injury Reserve songs ever made, with them manically depicting an apocalypse ever so flawlessly.

Meanwhile on “Ground 0”, we get a deranged cut detailing how he “got my shit buss down” leading into the dissonant “Smoke Don’t Clear” putting their own spin on the idiom “when the smoke clears”. The drumless instrumental that “Top Picks for You” brings to the table is entrancing as Hell with Ritchie going on about how “your patterns are still in place & your algorithm is still in action”, but then “Wild Wild West” takes a more sporadic route sonically referencing the shitty Will Smith movie of the same name fittingly enough.

The song “Postpostpartum” psychedelically goes in about birthing motherfuckers while the penultimate track “Knees” takes a turn into experimental rock territory with the group asking if there’s any way they can grow. “Bye Storm” ends the tape with some blaring guitars & Ritchie saying the show must go on even though Stepa is no longer with him or Parker in the flesh.

Given the events that have transpired within the past year or so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that By the Time I Get to Phoenix would become Injury Reserve’s darkest body of work to date. Parker Corey’s production is absolutely out of this world & Ritchie couldn’t have done a more excellent job at paying his final respects to Stepa.

Score: 4.5/5

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