By Zach Calluori
Brooklyn-based NoPop begins See Pretty with a 30 second history of punk. A highly distorted E chord is given a few strums – you can imagine a funny little Townshend windmill move – but this fades. A garage soon falls on the witch that is classic rock. The blues, the excess, the stardom passes, and from the ashes arises punk in trio format. Wafting in is a drumbeat with a few sporadic bars of 5/4 thrown in that lend the flavor of a mistake. In fact, this restarting groove of “Love-y-Love” is a crafted highlight. Accompanying the drums is a prominent, slightly overdriven bassline reminiscent of something that starts a Black Flag, maybe even a Minor Threat song. “All Friends” is noticeably short of bass in the beginning, but this only evidences the artistic awareness of the band regarding the power of that bass sound. There is a thin, lo-fi quality to the opening, as well as the ensuing guitar-based moments that channels the sonic profile of Iggy and The Stooges’ Raw Power. The bass comes in during the ambient interludes that ring with the lyrics “all my friends are dead”. Here, it seems to narrate a walk through a graveyard. Wisps of windy human ventilation provide a chill, and there is something sinister and youthful in Rachel’s melody and vocal, respectively, that, together, manage to scream punk.
“O, TV” cultures more indie rock strains with tight, coordinated rhythms, but bursts at the seams every so often with punchy guitars and screams. The falsetto vocal at 2:40-2:43 sounds like it just gave the middle finger to The Darkness. Ping Pong is a short tune, driven by a tri-tone riff, staccato jolts of guitar that, if you could touch the sound, probably feel something like warped tape from an old cassette. It’s a raucous minute, somewhat reminiscent of early Fugazi, chugging forwards with yelped vocals. “New World Bomb Spirituality” brings the Minutemen vibe, with wonderful dissonances and a string of upbeat hits. It plays with texture and tone, especially with the vocals, incorporating chanted vocals, layers of independently conversational vocals, and a chorus of wild call and response. The final cut, “Talk Trauma”, has a deep Nirvana vibe and architecture to its sound, but without the loud, sustained, sing along chorus to compliment the musings of the verse. It is a tactical performance, contributing to a feeling of unresolvedness that reflects the themes of the title. Then, however, fuzzy guitars bring the song to a climax, and in the end, it takes a surprise turn towards rock n’ roll.
This is an exciting, frenetic album littered with snippets of memorable pop melodies, synthesizing hardcore punk roots, noise, experimental, and alternative influences to produce something that really moxy rocks. Be on the lookout for shows and new music!
Listen to NoPop here: https://nopop.bandcamp.com/