NO///SÉ: Lower Berth: LP

Oakland’s No///sè has crafted the most refreshing genre-warping punk LP I’ve heard in ages. Each song departs from the previous tone and engages a different facet of punk, lighting up synapses in my brain and making me numb with joy. Everything is inspired, curating familiar sounds without repackaging nostalgia. “One Step Behind” opens with a raging Spits-like chant of the song title, then detours into “The Little Things You Love to Hate,” which recalls melodic punk like Libyans and No Problem. The haggard vocals are positioned equally alongside the razor sharp guitars, masking—but not burying—the infectious melodies behind a wall of distortion. But surprises abound. “Buried Alive” is pure power pop with enunciated singing and a driving bassline that plunges into “Neglect,” one of Lower Berth’s harshest songs. These tonal shifts demonstrate that listeners don’t need to be repeatedly spoon-fed the same song in new clothing. On “Wiped Out,” the chorus repeats “no point / no cure” as a nihilist mantra, followed by “Given Up,” a solo song that’s less fatalistic and more empowering: “I’ve given up on your stupid lie… because it’s always wrong.” No///sè reassures me that the rusty frame of punk and hardcore can be constantly spit-shined and polished into a pedaling beast. Bonus: If you listen to the LP on its Bandcamp, No///sè also shares a tasty, sped-up cover of Tom Waits’s “Dirt in the Ground” and a stripped-down version of “Buried Alive.” 

 –Sean Arenas (Man In Decline, manindeclinerecords.com / 1859, 1859records.bandcamp.com)