Nots go Cosmetic on their new album

CosmeticHailing from the American state that birthed country music, Memphis quartet Nots have been devotedly swimming against the current for half a decade with their snarling, textured alt-punk. After the release of 2014’s We Are Nots, the Heavenly Recordings signees return with Cosmetic - a collection of punishing, arduous songs that waste little time making their point.

Opening with the sound of rumbling toms and a Peter Hook-channeling bass line, “Blank Reflection” eases us in before an assault of wobbly synths; harsh, jangly guitars and Hoffman’s Riot Grrrl-esque vocals. Recalling elements of Bikini Kill, Joy Division and The Fall, “Blank Reflection” introduces Cosmetic as a world of unintelligible lyrics and feedback-heavy guitar squawks - its minimal production style only adding to the aural onslaught.

Though rarely mentioned as direct competition, Nots have bottled up just as much raw power and passion as their modern peers. The bleak “Cold Line” shares similarly relentless sonic architecture with Leeds punks Eagulls; the title track opens with a decaying guitar riff reminiscent to that of Copenhagen’s Iceage; and the nihilistic “New Structures” features similar doom-laden fretboard noodling favoured by Brighton band The Wytches.

Cosmetic’s 9 songs rattle away at a lightning pace, leaving almost no time for breath or reflection. Clocking in at just 35 minutes, the album burns away with abrasive energy that isn’t always easy to follow. However, it is in its second half that the record starts to click. Late in the day highlight “Inherently Low” is built upon a more straightforward yet memorable guitar riff (and is all the better for it); while the long, dissonant intros of “Fluorescent Sunset” and “Entertain Me” successfully add a subtle ambience to the racket.

While Nots are fully capable of creating as much sonic dismay as their contemporaries, there is a notable lack of memorability that sets these artists apart. The 9 songs here are sadly somewhat less original than the recent efforts of Iceage and The Wytches, while Hoffman’s intentionally grating vocal style begins to grow wearisome over time. Regardless, fans of punk, post-punk, no wave and the Riot Grrrl movement may well find much to enjoy here on an album that is deliberately hard to digest and unapologetically aggressive throughout.

Release: 9th September 2016, Heavenly Recordings

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