Reviews Nü Sensae Sundowning

Nü Sensae

Sundowning


Whether it is rap music, hardcore or pop punk, it seems the ‘90s are forcing their way back into our unsuspecting eardrums thanks to a handful of well-versed history-appreciating up ‘n’ comers. And with that sentiment arrives Sundowning, the second album by Vancouver, BC’s Nü Sensae, a band leading the small charge of current alt-core revivalists. Now a three piecewith addition of guitarist Brody McKnightthe formerly bass and drums only duo pins the snotty punch of classic L7 and Babes in Toyland alongside the auditory ambush of Dinosaur Jr. and the Melvins, while peppering it with Sonic Youth-y and Pixies-ish flirtations. Yes, it’s nearly impossible for anyone who lived through it the first time around to describe the band’s muddy, grunge-nodding brand of punk without playing the “sounds like” game. And that’s in no way a bad thing. Nü Sensae effectively retools the weightiest incisions from that exciting and hopeful era when “college rock” was becoming “alternative” and applies a punky methodology.

The album opener “Swim” starts off with ten seconds of angular guitar agitation before drummer Daniel Pitout comes thundering aboard, octopus-armed violence in tow, while bassist/vocalist Andrea Lukic lets loose with a stinger-throat croon that sounds like Kim Deal just slammed a gallon of Sunny D. It’s an accurate pacesetter, as from this point forward, save a few brief artier excursions; Nü Sensae hammers home a fresh-breathed visitation to the rapid, mucked-up spasms that sprang from the Pacific Northwest and nearly eclipsed everything in its path during the early ‘90s.

Midway through Sundowning the band allows the listener some breathing room. Their more experimental side peeks through on tracks like “Tea Swamp Park” and the subsequent “Whispering Rule.” The former is a cadenced excursion into no wave-esque territory, while during the latter Pitout and Lukic craft a heavily percussed rhythmic low end as McKnight fills every inch of available space with higher-pitched surf-like guitar—it slowly builds for three and half minutes before erupting into a pugnacious fit of heavy punk.

And though the band efficiently incorporates fringe elements of ‘90s alternative music in a contemporary fashion throughout the majority of the record, they are just as masterful when churning out late ‘70s/early ‘80s-informed hardcore punk numbers. As they do on “Tyjna”, a track that would fit nicely alongside classics songs by Middle Class, Scream or Articles of Faith.

Sundowning shows Nü Sensae are as mindful of their resources as they are of keeping things punk. With the expansion to a three person entity, the appropriation of past genre distinctions, and the intensity and attitude they started out with still intact, they have generated one of the year’s best albums to date.

9.0 / 10Nathan G. O'Brien
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