Naomi Punk, "The Feeling"
There are certain reviews of The Feeling that appear to focus most of their attention trying to link Naomi Punk to their geographical location: the Seattle-Olympia area, Washington State, the Pacific Northwest—namely, "the home of grunge." And while there is perhaps an argument to be made that Naomi Punk are native sons of that lost musical expanse, I hope I am not the only reader who cringed at the hackneyed aside suggesting that Naomi Punk's compositions often "change tempos at the drop of flannel."
What struck me almost immediately about Naomi Punk is their attention to rhythm and timing, the synchronized movements of guitar, bass, and drums—where the weight of the drums adds to the bulk of the bass, the shadows of the shifting guitar patterns—and the unique texturing of their sound, notably the warbling guitar work on display almost instantly in "Voodoo Trust." So much of The Feeling depends on these elements, and where some may hear the resonating mentality of grunge in these attributes, I also see post-punk, notably the jangled, unsettled landscapes Wire explored post-Pink Flag. In the transition from the haunting, carnivalesque instrumental "CLS + Death Junket" to "Trashland," one of the high points on a very strong album, I see a band that may indeed appreciate their hometown heroes, but also owns a record collection that includes Chairs Missing and 154, and can deftly navigate a spectrum of influences and atmospherics.
The issue with certain reviewers focusing too strongly on grunge—and this review taking too much time muddying those waters with talk of post-punk—is that it distracts from the true accomplishment of Naomi Punk: no one else sounds like they do. The band has such control over the seemingly jarring, chaotic elements that make up their compositions, navigating seamlessly between haunting openness (the brilliant "Trashland," the instrumental interludes) and the fantastically orchestrated and coordinated arrangements, where it feels like all the instruments are sharing in the percussive duties ("The Spell," "Burned Body"). Even the album's tracklist—interspersed with three fantastic interludes, all of which offer lush, spectral avenues to contemplate before plunging back into the fray—demonstrates the talents of a band fully aware of what they are doing, what they can accomplish, and what they can get away with.
At first, I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about Naomi Punk, yet I couldn't stop listening to the album—luckily The Feeling is up on Spotify. It wasn't until perhaps the second or third time through that I fully appreciated the record for what it is and saw why Captured Tracks signed them, adding a fantastic, original voice to their already stellar lineup. Holograms released their fine debut (which I reviewed for It's a Trap! before the site went on hiatus) with the Brooklyn-based label over the summer, the Soft Moon's sophomore effort is less than a week away from release, and now having smartly snatched up the rights to Naomi Punk's The Feeling Captured Tracks may well be responsible for the best post-punk releases this year, save for Metz's striking self-titled debut which, ironically, fell to Sub Pop. Strange world. I'm just glad that its suddenly awash in fantastic post-punk (with Metz, too, betraying a fondness for grunge—can't see "Sad Pricks" existing in a world without "Negative Creep"), especially of the caliber on display from Naomi Punk.