Memphis four piece NOTS’ first full-length record is barely that, zipping past breathlessly in less than half an hour.
It’s a lo-fi punk ghost train ride of spooky organ sounds, guitar riffs scrawling auguries over the walls and slavering, growling basslines. Imagine Victor Frankenstein sewing together The Cramps and The Slits and you might get the idea.
"Insect Eyes" is first up, redolent of The Horrors’ eerie garage rock pre-Strange House, as lead vocalist Natalie Hoffman wraps herself around the verses: “The future repeated a thousand times / I don’t want, I can’t have mine”. Across the record the lyrics speak of dark, wretched angst and reckless abandon, a possession that escapes its host in fits and starts. "Static" and "White Noise" tear along over Madison Farmer’s Death From Above 1979-style bass-driven rhythms, with Hoffman ripping apart her words on the latter: “I heard my own voice / My eyes are open wide / I saw you checking out / I heard the same blank sound / Paranoid / All white noise”.
At 3'55", lead single "Reactor" is positively Homeric in scale, a slow(ish) burner of discordant guitar and jabbing, juddering drums. Hoffman kicks out at the disjointed syllables of the chorus before everything breaks down, the twitching guitar becoming a vortex that sucks the song into oblivion. Amidst all the carnage "Strange Range" is almost danceable, Alexandra Eastburn’s jabbing synth a phantom siren.
There are some missteps; the irreverent cacophony of "Get Along", while undoubtedly fun as a live set segue, isn’t doing much here, and it’s difficult to set out at such breakneck speed and maintain the impact by the time we reach "Televangelist", its jerky arrhythmia and zapping synths insinuating the unsettlingly extra-terrestrial charisma of its subject. Yet as introductions go, We Are NOTS is a sharp gut punch of a debut LP and certainly merits attention.