Nothing Feels Natural

Written by: MIN on 30/04/2017 11:56:01

Washington D.C. has, for many years, been one of America’s primary distributors of punk-rock (Bad Brains, Minor Threat, anyone?) and still to this day, the city produces some fine acts. One of those is Priests, who deliver their outbursts with a twist of indie-rock and proto-punk — if I were to think of a fitting mix, I’d say they fall between The Stooges and Savages due to their incorporation of raw, Iggy-like, swaggering melodies and instrumental passages that, on occasion, create an ominous atmosphere. Despite some well-received EPs, the band has continued to lurk beneath the public’s eye for a while but their recently released debut album, “Nothing Feels Natural”, has finally launched them across the sea and straight unto some of Europe’s largest and most popular festivals. As soon as you put on “Nothing Feels Natural”, it’s not hard to tell why.

Some of Priests’ songs showcase a fresh take on a unique mix of genres and especially the honky-tonk rhythms of the album-opener, “Appropriate”, sends your thoughts straight to the primal, unaltered performances of past greats like Mick Jagger or the aforementioned Iggy Pop. The breakdown in the middle of the song sees vocalist Katie Alice Greer struggle side-by-side with a frenetic saxophone against lyrics about dishonesty — right up until they’re joined by every instrument found in your average four-piece, suddenly clashing together in a cacophonic finale. “Appropriate” works as the early highlight on an interesting album that unfortunately doesn’t reach quite the same level onwards. However, that’s not to say the album doesn’t have anything else to offer. “Jj” delivers the choice-cut single due to its upbeat surf melody and heavy use of piano, whereas the album’s title-track (initiated by the instrumental “Interlude”) provides a darker, slower and fuller sound thanks to the stretched-out guitar chords and a more melodic approach to the vocal-delivery. The two tracks make sure that the album feels more varied than your average punk-rock record.

A constant force that impresses me whenever I listen to “Nothing Feels Natural” is Greer’s impeccable performance — both vocally and lyrically. She sounds convincing, whether delivering soft and slow or howling uncontrollably, and it’s constantly her that pushes the music forward. Granted, Greer occasionally gets a little too rambling (her 19th century transcendentalist philosophic excursions on “No Big Bang” are exciting, but also a bit too dramatic for my taste) but it adds to her overall personality, which combines bare honesty, political outcries and mature self-insight. However talented the rest of the band members are — because they are talented — the album just wouldn’t be the same without Greer.

“Nothing Feels Natural” feels like a revolt against modern society, with Greer pointing her finger at politics, technology, capitalism and peoples’ indifference to their surroundings in the track “Pink White House”. At the same time, however, it’s as much an album about the narrator’s social relationships that more often than not are ruined by either Greer’s own mental state of mind (such as in “Nicki”) or the dishonesty and fraudulence of the people around her (like in the album-closer, “Suck”). Once the album ends, you’re left with a feeling of having been enlightened, yet also puzzled at the same time. The lyrics often feel oblique, as they take a long time to decipher, but they are delivered in a convincing manner that still feels one-of-a-kind, speaking much to the album’s lasting power.

Download: Appropriate, Jj, Pink White House, Suck
For the fans of: Savages, The Stooges, Iceage
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.01.2017
Sister Polygon Records

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