Cowpunk is the collaborative sound of music with its feet firmly planted in two genres. To play the game of such a delicate subgenre you have to keep your sound grounded and relatively consistent. With the release of Lincoln Has Won, The Habit aim to do just that. The Brooklyn-based group will stare you straight in the eye with country/folk and sock you in the ear with punk.
Standing firmly on their foundation of historically influenced lyrics and dynamic sound, the album propels itself forth with “War is Done;” an anthematic enticing lead track which calls you to arms and prompts revelry. The Habit’s debut continues on the rails of their experimental folk through to “Not Brooklyn” and “Won’t Go Home,” two tracks of downright addicting shuffling folk with beautifully balanced vocals delivered by Will Croxton and Siobhan Glennon. The male/female vocal duel fits Lincoln Has Won and develops its personality into a genuinely fascinating album.
To develop the true taste of The Habit, to really see their personality, we must dive deeper into the album. Their debut takes one giant step off the aforementioned path and redirects their sound to an almost incomparable sound. “Don’t Grow Old Young Man” is an unadulterated passionate distorted breakdown of wild guitar licks and heaving vocal delivery. The song leads off four tracks of questionable experimentation. While hardly destroying the album, it certainly dishes out a fair share of hesitation.
Closing out with “No Reason” and “Shout Together” Lincoln Has Won reveals its true intentions: it is twelve tracks of an all encompassing imaginative interpretation of how we got to where we are today as a country. The members of The Habit clearly challenged themselves with this album and for that they succeeded. There is nothing about this album that even hints at hesitation. Even in their most reaching sound they hold nothing back, almost to a downfall.
The Habit’s sound, like Dylan fronting the Pixies, lingers in your head and drives you to listen again. In all of its uniqueness, the sound is one which challenges itself and pushes the limits of a genre. Their ability to form a style around the already diverse Cowpunk enables them to create this memorable starting point. Honest folk infused experimentation, to the best of my knowledge, has not been challenged like this. Lincoln Has Won isn’t pretty, but then again, neither is our past. Neither is Cowpunk.