Negative Scanner - Nose Picker - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Negative Scanner - Nose Picker

by Tim Sentz Rating:6 Release Date:2018-07-20
Negative Scanner - Nose Picker
Negative Scanner - Nose Picker

Chicago based punk outfit Negative Scanner have always leaned towards the “in-your-face” aesthetic. Their first full length from 2015 was a quick-witted but claustrophobic debut album filled with crunch chords and 70s throwbacks. Relentless touring throughout DIY venues across the world helped get them a bit more noticed – perfect timing too, as their brand of post-punk is sorely needed in these troubling times.

Rebecca Valeriano-Flores conjures so many influences, from Siouxsie to Jehnny Beth of Savages, but still manages to make her droning voice seem all the more unique on cuts like the title track “Nose Picker.” Cover art aside, Nose Picker picks up where the band left off on their debut, with a bit more polishing to this diamond in the rough. There are more hooks on Nose Picker, which usually indicates the band sold out or something (I don’t know, ask the poseurs) but here it’s just an extension of their cohesiveness as a band. Valeriano-Flores spits between hellfire and vitriol then flips it to charming harmonies, all the way throughout. The rest of the band compliments her vocals, such as on “6 Ft. Hole” with the plucky Wire-esque licks, while Valeriano-Flores continues to unleash hell.

But about five songs into Nose Picker, the repetitiveness gets a little bit tiring. There are hooks, there’s venom, there’s excellent instrumentation. But whereas other post-punk revivalists like Iceage or even Preoccupations are bringing a fresher approach to it (or least reviving one), Negative Scanner feel like a half-cooked band at times. Nose Picker just kind of meanders, and while it’s shorter than its predecessor, feels like a slog to get through after the half-way mark. The title track is a standout, offering the closest bit of accessibility for the masses, but the rest of the album seems like a blur.

“Shoplifter” is the longest song the band have recorded to date, and it comes close to the 4-minute, which is twice the length of most of their songs. This is, unfortunately, the biggest deviation between their self-titled album and Nose Picker. As a genre like post-punk garners more attention and admiration, there’s naturally going to be an overabundance of talent trying to reinvent the style. Negative Scanner do their best to bring a fresh sound, and it’s highlighted by Valeriano-Flores’ distinct vocals, and as a band, they are wound tightly together. The end results have been good, but not great.

Negative Scanner are a great band, with a good discography, but anyone looking for something different from them on their sophomore effort are sure to be disappointed. These twelve songs have little character and don’t deviate from the formula set-up by their debut, and it’s the same formula a lot of post-punkers are doing. And just like with those, Nose Picker has highs and lows that are just too polarizing to recommend. 


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