COOKED, 'GOOD LUCK DON'T DIE' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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COOKED, 'GOOD LUCK DON'T DIE'

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Published August 24, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


(Self-released, digital)

The first time I heard a song about suicide, I was a kid watching the 1988 film Heathers, which features "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)" by a fictional band called Big Fun. While many of the plotlines around the satirical song are played for laughs, hearing music that so blithely touched what I thought was a taboo subject shocked me.

Many years later, I'm unfortunately more accustomed to songs about suicide. So, when I hear a song like "Wet Match" by Burlington hardcore punk act COOKED, the candid pain in its lyrics doesn't horrify me in the way it perhaps should. For example: "I sing I'm lost but I'm defeated / And I say I want help but I don't mean it / Take my hands as I fall down six feet beneath the ground."

Much of the trio's debut EP, GOOD LUCK DON'T DIE, is a ragged, raging cry for help — even if it often doesn't seem like the band wants any. Over ferocious riffs and violently pummeling drums, COOKED vacillate between the rage of Agnostic Front and the pop-punk slickness of the Descendants. Through it all, the band makes it clear that staying clean is easier said than done.

COOKED's pain and confusion are on full display on the second track, "Neurosis." The song starts with the line: "Can someone please tell me what the fuck to do?" It's later answered by a screamed response: "So don't you ever tell me what the fuck to do." This isn't an example of the band being simply contrary or aiming for teenage petulance. It's a songwriting theme that runs throughout the EP: Sometimes, even when we need help, the compulsion for self-destruction can outweigh all.

Much of that self-destruction — as laid out in tracks such as "Fired Up!," a high-octane blitz of speed and rage — involves addiction. COOKED don't list their band members' names on their Bandcamp page, nor did they reply to requests for more information. While being punk rock as fuck, that mysteriousness is also a curious attitude for the makers of such a confessional album.

GOOD LUCK DON'T DIE is full of pain, confusion and shame, with only glimpses of hope. The EP's most radio-friendly track, the pop-punk-leaning "Intimacy Issues," riffs on a life that is "boring and sober." As the song goes on, we learn that sobriety brings the protagonist no happiness, because past issues and old heartbreaks still make it hard to connect.

A dream team of Burlington music scene production offsets the darkness of COOKED's debut. Recorded and mixed by Urian Hackney (Rough Francis, the Armed), produced by Ezra Oklan (Matthew Mercury, Dwight + Nicole) and mastered by Jeremy Mendicino (Matthew Mercury), the EP sounds as good as anything in the genre.

GOOD LUCK DON'T DIE is hardly a pleasant romp, but as a debut it's a clenched fist, thrust triumphantly aloft. Check it out at cookedvt.bandcamp.com.