A lot of the bands I listen to have gotten older and slowed their productivity so it’s nice to realize that The Coathangers are already releasing their fifth album even it’s already been a decade for the Atlanta-formed trio. On Nosebleed Weekend the band takes a bit of a curve toward a cleaner, less challenging sound, even if it’s just an one.
What stands out on the 13-song album is that there’s a crispness to it. The guitars riff with more precision and there’s a confidence that rings throughout the record. While I call it a bit cleaner it’s still Coathangers all the way: a mishmash of no wave, garage, and punk. Throw in some kitchen sink influence from track to track and it forms a bunch of 3-minute songs that lean toward harsh and DIY but with an ear for melody that grows with each release.
The melody keeps moving to the forefront on Nosebleed Weekend even as the band continues their antics like switching singers and instruments on every song. Opener “Perfume” and closer “Copycat” are among the cleanest, poppiest songs on the record and they feel a little less influenced by the rhythm section, instead pushing the vocals to the front of the mix in a way that works better on the ballad-esque “Copycat” than on the pseudo new wave “Perfume.”
Other production decisions, like the fade out at the end of “Dumb Baby,” cost the record a few invisible points on the grading rubric but overall this record is more of what makes The Coathangers so enjoyable. The band stitches together what should be a chaotic mix of repetitive vocals, chugging clangy riffs, and off-step dance beats in a way that works. Older material got the no wave descriptor but I’m not sure that applies to Nosebleed Weekend which feels more riff (and radio) friendly.
The middle of the record is the strongest, from “Excuse Me?” through “Watch Your Back,” as the songs are alternately heavy, repetitive, unpredictable, and dancey. It’s contrarian but gels together beautifully, as in “Watch Your Back” with its vocal tradeoffs, spun in group vocals, and the sudden breakdowns that keep the listener from getting too comfortable. The title track “Nosebleed Weekend” is probably the perfect middle ground between Suck My Shirt and this one. It has that repetitive chug but it’s a little more grungy than noisy with direct riffage instead of atypical guitar sounds. The structure is the same as always for the group but it’s a bit more accessible and with a serious earworm effect. “Squeeki Tiki” has a great beat and hits at their classic sound well, though the frequent use of an actual squeaky toy gets annoying fast.
The Coathangers continue to work an indescribable line between genres and styles that’s both indifferent to convention while clinging to it just enough to make it coherent and downright happy amid the impending chaos. There are a lot of new noisemaking devices inserted into songs here (“Squeeki Tiki” and “Burn Me”) and the primal level of their songwriting is rhythmic and pulsing, fun and confrontational without being aggressive. It straddles a lot of lines and draws a picture that’s multi-directional and jagged, but comes together where it matters.