Brooklyn-based No Swoon opens their self-titled debut LP (out on Substitute Scene Records) with startling admissions. “I don’t know what’s my own,” Tasha Abbott confesses on the lead track. “I don’t know what’s controlled.” Her confusion is warranted given what feels like everyone’s current mental state—increasingly critical, and frustrated with everything from misogyny to global power imbalance—and she and Zack Nestel-Patt explore such themes in reciprocal form over the course of nine searingly critical tracks. Abbott’s distorted guitars and hypnotic vocals, cradled by Nestel-Patt’s lulling synths, are the musical equivalent of a fever dream recalled with surprising sharpness.
Ambiguous yet urgent, No Swoon’s upcoming release searches for answers to questions that may never be resolved. “Kate” ponders the duality of depression and anger, portraying a woman numbed as the people around her drone that it’s just a phase, whereas “Forward” frets about how to express alienation with global crises. “Is the ice really splitting? / Are the ceilings getting smaller? / Couldn’t notice through these headlines / Couldn’t notice through the mud.” The aforementioned opener “Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up”, a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll track with fuzzy, electronic rhythms reminiscent of Diiv and Joy Division, feels baffled by the paradox of power structures that lead to universal unrest. The LP reunites the band with producer Jorge Elbrecht (Wild Nothing, Japanese Breakfast) and adds Robi Gonzalez (ex-A Place to Bury Strangers, This Will Destroy You) on drums.
No Swoon’s previous effort, 2018’s EP 1, was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, it was about getting back to her geographic and musical roots, driving around the ‘burbs listening to everything from the goth and new wave her mom played in the car when she was little (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) to the indie- and punk-rock of her teen years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes). The result was a mesmerizing trio of songs that Podcart called “a prismatic wonder…that will have you hitting repeat.”
Having just picked up the electric guitar and analog synthesizer in 2016, Abbott and Nestel-Patt cut their teeth playing dozens of shows throughout New York as they recorded and released EP 1. They continued to fine-tune their sound on stages around the country before eventually returning to LA for the famed Part Time Punks residency at The Echo.