Rid of Me 2023
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Rid of Me’s ‘Access to the Lonely’ Is More Than Hardcore

Rid of Me’s Access to the Lonely is one of the essential hardcore records of the past few months, but it cannot be contained by one genre.

Access to the Lonely
Rid of Me
Knife Hits Records
3 November 2023

Naming your band after a landmark album from PJ Harvey is a bold shot call, but Philadelphia’s Rid of Me acquit themselves admirably on Access to the Lonely, their second full-length. Forming from the ashes of noted Philadelphia noise bands Low Dose and Fight Amp, Rid of Me don’t fall too far from those bands’ legacies, but this is a step up from those projects and a startlingly impressive leap beyond their exciting debut, 2021’s Traveling. It is one of the essential hardcore records of the past few months, but it cannot be contained by one genre and hopefully finds some favor outside that scene, too.

Access to the Lonely is about really going through it, being broken but not defeated, but digging deep to keep going and attempting to channel that loneliness, uncertainty, and isolation into something powerful. Rid of Me wear their 1990s influences (including Ms. Harvey and early 1990s grunge and 2000s noise core) on their sleeves, but this is no retread. They create a riveting and go-for-broke mix, made all the more compelling by lead vocalist Itarya Rosenberg, whose incredible vocals veer from a whisper to a scream and tie the songs together. He is a trans man sharing candidly about the complexity of his feelings and experiences. The lyrics take some untangling in the best possible way, but they are well worth it and are filled with unsettling imagery. Branchless trees, heads resting on toilets, lots of cutting, and the most tattoo-worthy line I’ve read in ages: “I’m the Devil made of access to the lonely.”

The opener, “Rid of Me”, builds and explodes carefully, and this is one of the tracks where Rosenberg even sounds a little like PJ Harvey in verse. This is an impressive introduction to his range, as his voice towers over even the huge guitars, sounding a little like the Blood Brothers. The slower tracks have a thick, sludgy sound, such as the highlight “Cut”, which lurches along until a noisy break and towering guitar solo. “Feel You” also has a compelling loud-quiet-loud mix.

“Hell of It”, another highlight, has a massive riff that recalls early Alice in Chains. Rid of Me are just as effective when they shift up the tempo on songs like “How You Say It Is”, “Libertarian Noise Rock”, and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Die”, which has a highly catchy riff that picks up the pace toward the end for a powerful conclusion to a rager about a dysfunctional relationship. It recalls great riot grrl bands like Babes in Toyland and 2000s noisy hardcore.

Rid of Me save the deepest knife twist for last. Closer “The Weekend” has a piano stabbing into the verses, sending a shiver down the spine. The yearning, aching vocals from Rosenberg are sad and resigned, and the line “I am a melody meant for the weekend, long gone when Monday morning breaks” is gut-wrenching.

While some records about this much pain find some sort of peace or catharsis in the end, in Access to the Lonely, there is no victory, no triumph, at least for now. Best case scenario, a moment of hard-won peace, a knowledge of self as a starting point. This is a record for exorcising personal demons, a dark night of the soul. Even if you haven’t been everywhere Rosenberg has been, it’s easy to feel for him and exciting to ponder the leaps and bounds that will surely occur before we hear LP 3. 

RATING 8 / 10