By: Tori Kravitz
Debt Neglector’s highly anticipated full-length album “Dirty Water” seems like a surface level punk album at first glance, but think again. Underneath the punky exterior lies a cavern of societal reflection and brutally honest personal reflection in a carefully balanced track list. It’s heartbreaking, revelatory, empowering, reflective, and passionate – all wrapped up in one hell of a musical package. “There’s songs about battling depression, fear, loss, and anxiety and I tried really hard not to mince words about any of it,” their vocalist Alex Goldfarb explained.
Beyond the music, their altruistic side is evident in their initiative to donate 10% of the profits from album sales evenly between Flint Kids Fund and Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) to help youth affected by the dangerous levels of lead and toxins that were piped into their homes from the Flint River. The track list embodies everything beloved about the punk genre with a modern take on current affairs. They are fearlessly addressing a wide range of lyrical ideas with unprecedented ambition.
Luckily for us, Goldfarb is giving us a glimpse into each track’s depth and inspiration in this exclusive track by track feature.
- Dirty Water – This track is about the Flint Water Crisis and how ashamed our country should be about letting it happen. We’re supposed to be the richest country in the world,” but people were poisoned with dangerous levels of lead (among other can-cer and illness causing toxins), people died, and many of the children in Flint will be dealing with lifelong health issues because of it. And the worst part is that the people in charge knew about it and tried to cover it up. I feel like the situation that happened in Flint is kind of a microcosm of America. Politicians serving their own self-interests, trying to make (or save) a quick buck, and fucking over the constituents that they were elected to help and protect. That’s why the song title ended up becoming the album title for this LP. While Dirty Water the song is fairly literal, it also serves as a metaphor for the general corruption in America.
- Anti Trust – Anti Trust is about my frustration with our two party political system. In the last presidential election we were forced to choose between Biden (who’s about as corporate as you can get and basically a Republican) and a literal Fascist. Not a very fun choice to make! I’m glad Biden won because Trump is absolute scum but corporate interests have dominated American politics for way too long. I wish for the day when I can vote for someone who is excited to actually help people and try to solve our problems.
- Cult Cult Cult – Cult Cult Cult is about the segment of people in our country that have been tricked into thinking unchecked Capitalism is basically the greatest thing ever. They’ve been fooled into believing that immigrants and social programs are the reason they’re broke, instead of blaming the actual root of their problems which is the unchecked greed of the extremely wealthy and mega corporations. They look up to guys like Jeff Bezos and believe they’ve actually EARNED their money. When in reality the only way anyone can get that rich is through exploiting the labor of thou-sands of people and paying to bend the rules in your favor.
- Space Case – Space Case is about getting older and feeling unsure about your life choices. It’s hard in the days of social media not to compare yourself to others and sometimes feel insecure about what you’ve accomplished. I’ve always had a bit of imposter syndrome and I’ve never been a super confident person (although I pretend to be sometimes!). Occasionally I feel like my shyness can be misinterpreted as aloofness or disinterest. In reality I’m just a ball of anxiousness in a lot of situations and feel patently uncool 99% of the time. Space Case sort of covers my feelings of insecurity. It’s me wondering aloud, “Will anyone even remember me when I die? Has any-thing I’ve ever done mattered?! Real existential dread type stuff”
- Tremors – Tremors is a pretty personal song for me. It’s about being there when my Mom got diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a couple years ago. The doctor sort of nonchalantly delivered this devastating news to her about this debilitating disease and we were both just kind of in disbelief about it. Deep down we sort of knew it was Parkinson’s that she was dealing with. She had been having tremors in her hand for a couple of years but at that moment our hope that it was something else got crushed. In the end I had to accept that our roles were about to change. She took care of me when I was young, and now I’ll care for her when she’s old. But it’s hard not to be angry and distressed when you get such bad news about such a good person. I tried to capture all of those emotions in the song and hopefully I succeeded.
- Least I Could Do – Least I Could Do is a song about having to say goodbye to a beloved pet. Anyone who’s gone through that knows it’s such an impossible decision to make. It fucked me up pretty bad. But the last thing we wanted was for her to suffer on account of us not being ready to let go. I feel like writing a song about it kind of helped me process the experience better. It also lets me honor her in a way because now all that love and pain exists on the internet forever (or at least until civilization collapses!). Admittedly, the song is a HUGE bummer but it’s energetic and super fun to play. It’s also something I think a lot of people can relate to.
- Pardon Our Dust – Pardon Our Dust is my thank you note to therapy and my therapist. A few years ago I was severely depressed, going through a divorce, and I absolutely could not picture a future for me that wasn’t total garbage. I don’t know if you need to put a trigger or content warning before this, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that there were days where the thought of being dead felt easier than wading through my life and the difficult decisions in front of me. But I went to therapy and it helped. It helped a lot. And a few years later I’m sitting here happy, content, excited for the future, and armed to the teeth with strategies to deal with my depression when it rears its ugly head. The song has some dark imagery in it, but the message is that therapy might have saved my life and I’m extremely grateful.
- Nothing Works – A lot of people who suffer from depression are also lucky enough to suffer from anxiety. Nothing Works is about how some nights I wake up thinking about every dumb thing I’ve done, every person I’ve hurt, and every bad thing that could possibly go wrong in my life. Those nights it’s impossible to go back to sleep and I will toss and turn for hours until my alarm goes off and it’s time to go to work. I really like how the odd timing in the chorus accentuates the feeling of restlessness I feel on those nights. The song is still catchy but it maintains a sort of hectic vibe.
- Infection – I think it was impossible to get through 2020 without writing a song about COVID and how it affected us. There was so much uncertainty, and then there was the lockdown, but in Florida the push to “get people back to work” and “reopen the economy” was stronger than anywhere. As a teacher I felt like they were sending us back to in-person learning without a real understanding of how the virus spread and how bad it would get. The CDC sets these guidelines that are pretty fucking hard to follow in a small classroom (or on a school bus) and we’re supposed to just go to work and be exposed to an exponential amount of risk so the economy can keep humming? It felt outrageous. It felt like a callous disregard for life in the name of profits. I (like many essential workers) was legitimately scared and have lived in fear of getting infected or infecting the ones I love all year. It’s been brutal and we watched a whole lot of other countries, and even other states, handle it WAY better than us.
- Eviction Notice – This is a song about saying good fucking riddance to a toxic member of your family. This person has endlessly lied and taken advantage of every-one he could until he burned every bridge that was left. I was so happy when he was finally out of our lives that I wrote a song about it. See we write happy songs too!
- Sore Loser – Two happy songs back to back?? Why not?? Remember last summer when all those confederate statues got torn down? That made me really fucking stoked. I believe confederate statues are monuments to racism and oppression, and they literally should not exist anywhere. I was happy to see them destroyed, defaced, and dumped into rivers. It was really great. The song also calls out all these people saying “But it’s history!!!” Yeah, bad history. It’s something we should be ashamed of. Trust me, NO ONE is forgetting that slavery existed in this country. Your little statue isn’t the only way that history is preserved dumbass. It’s 2021, there are books, the internet, etc. and it’ll be IMPOSSIBLE to forget the stain that slavery has left on America for a very, very long time. This one was released already digitally on our Bad Faith EP, but we liked it so much we wanted to make sure it ended up on vinyl. So we stuck it on the LP too!
- Live Alert – Live Alert was a very late addition to our recording session. I had done a quick acoustic demo of it and asked our one guitar player, “Should it be an acoustic song to change up the vibe of the album? Or should we make it a full band song?” He replied, “Why not both?” So the song starts acoustic then everything kicks in about a third of the way through. We only played it together 3 or 4 times before we tracked it. That is super unlike us. We’ve usually demoed things to death before we hit the studio. But it was cool to have a song that came to life at the last minute and we let ourselves fly by the seat of our pants for once. It’s about the fear of nuclear war and what you would do in those last moments when you know the bombs are on their way.
- Business is Booming – Business is Booming is a bit of a stylistic departure for us. There’s a little Queens of the Stone Age vibe going on with the driving drums and openness of the verses. And then it’s got this heavy ending that reminds me of Paint it Black which makes it even weirder. The lyrics are about how our planet is dying from pollution and global warming. We’ve allowed a handful of corporations to ruin pretty much everything for the future of humanity. And 99% of us aren’t even seeing the financial benefit of any of it. It’s just a bunch of greedy fuckers killing the world, hoarding their wealth, while the rest of us suffer in poverty.
- Bad Faith – This was the title track for our digital EP we released to benefit the Senate runoff elections in Georgia in late 2020. We liked it enough to want to make sure it ended up on vinyl (instead of just living digitally as 1’s and 0’s). It’s about how people use religion (especially Christianity) as a means of oppression and to feed some sort of moral superiority complex. I have zero problems with people who are religious and their beliefs give them peace but as soon as you try to control women’s bodies, stop certain people from getting married, or force your beliefs into schools I have a BIG problem with that. A lot of vicious, greedy, hateful, holier-than-thou bullshit has happened in the name of religion. Because of that I have this funny image in my head about these people meeting God one day (not that I personally believe in that) and God being like… “What the fuck!? You guys are assholes!”
Debt Neglector’s full length album “Dirty Water” comes out on November 5th via Smartpunk Records. Grab a copy HERE or stay tuned on all digital streaming services.