Constructing A Mental Breakdown, the ambitious burst of post-hardcore noise by Pittsburgh quartet Not Your Friends, is a vexing little document.

First things first, it must be said that, when these guys crank up the vitriol, there’s simply no goddamn stopping them. There are many parts of the Bandcamp-only release, whose seven songs don’t even break the 10-minute barrier, that are stupid heavy, and the studied, spot-on grindcore of “Abort” and “Disassociation Association” are alone worth the $7 the band is asking listeners to toss in its hat.

But there are other parts of the disc that are just plain bizarre. “Three Kings Mafia,” which sounds like it’s fronted by a teenager (I don’t mean that dismissively), and the bark of the excellent “Bird Shit Magnet” (sample lyric: “I hope we’re buried together/ Someday I’ll marry you, bitch”) might take their sense of time from The Locust, but their sense of irreverence, of a kind of playfulness in face of such sonically violent material, is wholly other.  To that end, look no further to the bubbly pop segue of “Dermis,” which sounds like it’s coming from another record entirely; the Bizarro harmonics and Suicidal Tendencies-isms of “Sebastian No;” or the preschool hand-clap retort of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” titled “The World’s Fastest Blastbeat” on the release. You can’t say Not Your Friends isn’t having fun here.

For a band that trashes this well, there’s an unusual attention to detail, like the twisted guitar chords of “The Tragedy of Greg,” or the hyper-pressurized, bass-driven punk of “Sweet Serenity,” which hints at The Descendants or a more acidic All. “It Is Happening Here,” another standout, starts with grindcore refrains and roars, and then darts between psychedelic-guitar malaise or detuned plodding and excellent and vicious post-metal explosiveness. It’s better than a lot of the stuff I’ve heard from Rolo Tomassi, that’s for sure. For a band this new – their discography offers few hints; I’m guessing their ages based on the vocalist’s range and from the amount of “fucks” in their Bandcamp pseudonyms – that’s saying a lot.


By Justin Vellucci

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer at MusicTAP and Popdose, a contributor to Pittsburgh City Paper and Punksburgh, and a former staffer at Delusions of Adequacy and Punk Planet. His music writing has appeared in national publications such as American Songwriter and PopMatters, alt-weeklies The Brooklyn Rail and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.