Downtown Boys have never been shy about making the political personal. Each member of the sextet has a background in social organizing, and they bring this knowledge to their raucous and commanding live shows. In 2012, the Providence-based band released an unhinged eponymous album featuring a range of rough tracks, covers, and live songs. The record’s follow-up arrived in 2014 in the form of a self-titled seven-inch. Since then, Downtown Boys have been busy working on their new LP Full Communism.
Seconds into the full-length, Downtown Boys reveal their agenda: progress through education. Crying out against a honking saxophone, Joey DeFrancesco speaks the first lines of the opener, “Coming in on a wave/ A wave of history,” before Victoria Ruiz bursts in screaming, “Do what we want/ On our wave of history.” “Wave of History” is “Kids in America” for the kids who have become disillusioned with their country, their social roles, and the apathy of their peers. “We are the surge,” they sing together in contagious fits of fury. Following a brief saxophone interlude, Ruiz tears into “Santa.” In rapid-fire Spanish, she throws verbal punches like “Espero que seas fea / Espero que seas alta” (“I hope you’re ugly/ I hope you’re high”), carried by blistering drum fills.
The Boys continue to confront issues of injustice on “Tall Boys,” an anthem about privilege, awareness, and a demand that boys move the fuck to the back. “Taking up the front/ so we can’t dance/ You think you’re fan/ You’re the tallest man,” sneers Ruiz, effortlessly transforming the thoughts and experiences of many into a battle-cry.
“Monstro” perhaps most fully embodies the spirit of Downtown Boys. The song is preluded by a spoken intro (“Brown and Smart”) in which Ruiz asks, “Why is it that fear always wants us to go looking for more?” As the band joins her, she continues, “Why is it that we never have enough with just what’s inside of us? Today, today we must scream at the top of our lungs that we are brown, we are smart, that nothing that they do can push it away!” As the saxophones swell, Ruiz’s words sink in. This is Downtown Boys at their most vehement, their most scathingly acute. This is the relentless effect of Full Communism: an album that makes you think, an album that urges you to take action, an album encompassed by an energy that cannot be summarized.