Syndrome 81 Prisons Imaginaires

17th June 2022

12 Inch



‘Cernés par l’océan et battus par les flots, Ces rues m’ont vu grandir, et nous verront mourir, La mer pour horizon et la pluie pour linceul, Piégés dans le béton, prisons imaginaires’ (Toujours á Ouest) ‘Surrounded by the ocean and battered by the waves, These streets have seen me grow up, And will see me die, The sea as the horizon and the rain as the shroud, Trapped in concrete, imaginary prisons’ (Always In The West)

Following a flurry of excellent EPs (now available in compilation form as Béton Nostalgie), Syndrome 81 release their debut full-length, Prisons Imaginaires.  Taking aggressive, emotionally charged melodic punk as their starting point, the band fuse it with darkly sombre death rock and sinewy, austere cold wave to forge a brilliantly infectious impact.  Robust French language vocals explore themes of disillusionment and frustration growing up in the port city of Brest, trapped by constraints both real and self-imposed.  And yet for all of its raucous immediacy, this is also an album of undeniable depth, including a highly evocative spoken word interlude at the conclusion of the first side.  Each return play yields new reveals as the band adroitly balance smouldering menace with a sense of haunted melancholy.

—Foundation Vinyl

Between the quays, the docks, the cranes and the Brest arsenal, it’s been almost 10 years since Syndrome 81 got down to the heavy task of bringing 80’s punk rock up to date. In just a few EPs, the band has become one of the best representatives of a new French scene internationally. Syndrome 81 manages the perfect blend of various influences of the second punk wave, from the American hardcore of Negative Approach to the French punk-rock of Camera Silens by way of the cold English punk of Blitz. Like an endless wandering in a drifting society, Syndrome 81’s music and lyrics are rough and cold. With Prisons Imaginaires, the songs become even more effective, and we can already imagine the next shows where the public will sing along to the brilliantly formulated refrains. Syndrome 81 describes the spleen of everyday life and the boredom of life in Brest, far from everything, like no other. Syndrome 81’s first full length was long overdue but this time was used wisely to deliver a perfect album.

—Sabotage Records