There’s nothing wrong with simple and to the point punk, especially when it’s trying to get a message across. For their latest album, Negative Scanner bring a tight and focused record that hits hard with political commentary while balancing punk rock sounds from legends and their own bag of tricks. While they don’t always offer up enough unique hooks in their music, this is an easily digestible punk record from start to finish that will have you begging for more soon.
The angular punk chords of “T.V.” come in with a fierce energy as the album starts off with the right cross of vintage rock and forward-thinking writing. As stripped down as many of Negative Scanner’s instrumentation is, they manage to bring some absolutely mesmerizing performances out of them nonetheless. “Nose Picker” goes just as ballistic, as its drums finally match the dynamic vocal performances found throughout the record. Using people’s habits as a basis for changing opinion, the song tackles how set in our ways we can get. Following this, “History Lesson” really steps things up on a melodic perspective, with every descending sub-section bringing tension to the track. In the moaned vocals however, the song really takes the concept of trying to learn what’s right by looking at others’ failures.
The sharp percussion of “6 Ft. Hole” really makes for a powerful listen, as every vocal seems to be playing with the drums. With an unabashed fury, Negative Scanner go all out on this track to shake their listeners and send them into a moshing fury. “A Vision” takes this energy even higher as Rebecca Valeriano-Flores vocals seem to command the guitar lines like a general leading an army. With its endless momentum, and shouts of “Bite Down!” the track is a fierce rallying cry for a new wave.
“A Cross” hits hard with its vicious riffs and dark bass, as it turns a seemingly surf-rock core into a jarring lo-fi political track. With choruses that call from punk greats while telling a story of its own, the track is instantly infectious and inspiring to listen to. Though it sinks into familiar swinging rhythms, “The Only One” is carried by its infectious swagger and ability to stop and start without losing its energy. As they spin their writing into even more jagged solos, Negative Scanner also prove they aren’t afraid to push the envelope on every end of their writing.
Alternatively “Shoplifter” is much more dependent on its vocals than other tracks on the album, as something in the mix and a much more straightforward writing approach makes it feel a tad bland (in the overall scheme of the record that is). Luckily “First Blood” immediately turns this around on a song that feels ripped right out of a B-movie, while having the right grime to go all out. This dirty sound and a relentless delivery makes the song really vicious to hear and one that will undoubtedly make fans lose it live.
“10 Million Kids” is unapologetically political in its audio assault, as it marches forward with a vicious pace. Though it’s just lacking the right hook to transcend exciting punk, it really has all the right attitude. While a lot less overtly message-heavy, “Let It Die” goes all out in its punk energy, and makes for a fun and bouncy listen. Letting the sharp riffs cut through better, “Health Insurance” balances its ideas with memorable musical moments and closes the album out with a furious fire.
Words by Owen Maxwell
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