Narc Twain
Narc Twain


3.8
excellent

Review

by Irving STAFF
November 22nd, 2015 | 21 replies


Release Date: 12/04/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Can I get you a glass of what passes for water?

Last spring, Jukebox the Ghost’s Tommy Siegel chanced upon an old book of poetry in a recycling bin near his apartment in Brooklyn. The book was none other than The Cult of Comfort, a collection of writings by poet Jeremy Schmall, which, despite its title's implied serenity, was packed with darkly humorous observations on post-millennial paranoia and modern-day capitalism. As Siegel flipped through the book, he found himself relating strongly to Schmall's irreverent musings and began penning down new ideas for songs based on their shared threads of thought. With a small clutch of would-be tunes under his arm, Siegel then roped in guitarist Aaron Leeder, keyboardist Dave Cohen, bassist Brett Niederman, and drummer/producer John Thayer, all of whom he had been playing with for almost a decade as part of the art punk outfit Drunken Sufis. It was a wise move – Siegel had always been blessed with a quick wit and a storyteller’s voice, but with the benefit of additional input from several trusted audiosmiths, the new songs began to come to life. Raw edges were licked into shape, melodies were tightened, and the recklessness knob was dialed up to eleven.

The result is the mini album Narc Twain, a thirty-minute thesis on post-millennial America that is part clear-eyed revelations and part grazed elbows; it’s Fugazi by way of the Pogues, with a hint of modern-day contemporaries Cloud Nothings. Narc Twain’s opening one-two punch is a veritable tour de force of fist-in-air anthems that’s as captivating as anything Siegel’s ever strung together in his decade-long career, but it also uncovers a more resentful side of him that is rarely seen in his work with Jukebox the Ghost and Drunken Sufis. To be absolutely clear, Siegel is slightly too clean of a vocalist to project the type of full frontal assault that is Dylan Baldi’s or Ian MacKaye’s forte, but he makes up for the lack of sustained high volume by proving to be an artful wordster with a welcome lack of self-policing. Take the insanely catchy, sometimes outright explosive opener "Downhill" for instance, where he intones “Come on kids; gather around, look at yourself in the mirror, and repeat after me – ” before launching into several full-throated yells of “IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE!!!” Yet this aggressive aesthetic somehow serves to magnify the frontman’s narrative abilities – almost as if he’s been waiting to do something like this all his life. "Future Shock" opens with Siegel noting that “It’s the dawn of an era of no decisions/And disposable goods that are made with precision”, but once the crystal ball clears it's a particularly vindictive quote that most elegantly expresses the singer-songwriter’s newfound disdain for American corporatocracy: "Can I get you a glass of what passes for water"/There’s no colour that can mask the shade of shit that you’re in." Schmall himself would be proud.

The album’s centerpiece, however, is the monolithic "No Connection", which clocks in at a massive nine-and-a-half minutes and sees Narc Twain electing to trade in their brand of callous poetry for something more abstract. “There’s no c-c-c-c-connection; stop p-p-p-p-paying attention!” sings Siegel at several key intervals, making it obvious that this time around, he and the rest of his band want the focus to be on the accompanying music instead. That claim is not without substance, as the five-piece succeed in proving that they definitely have the music school chops to tangle with the best. Guitarist Leeder’s swerves and dives, in particular, will probably require several repeat listens to fully appreciate the degree of the dexterity on display. The shift in pitch and pace during the song’s piano-driven midsection may be slightly jarring, but Siegel and co. compensate by embarking on a spectacular high voltage sprint in the final third of the number before gradually ebbing away into a slow-burning coda; it's a moment of brilliance that is thoroughly deserving of its place in the epicenter of the record.

Of course, Narc Twain isn’t without its growing pains. “Same Shit”, in particular, spends its entire runtime showing us how it can make puns out of its own title by effectively retreading the dynamics previously established by both “Downhill” and “Future Shock”. Elsewhere, “God Given Right” has its fair share of thrills but is perceptibly shedding weight by the time it reaches its end, which is a bit of a problem, given that the song is barely three minutes long. In short, it’s hard not to expect more, to wish that there Narc Twain had more width and breadth to offer, particularly given the amount of potential that has just been put on show. That being said, it will be interesting to see where the band chooses to go from here; Siegel may repeatedly claim to be afraid of the future, but on the back of this evidence, he really shouldn't be.




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user ratings (17)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 22nd 2015


7503 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Hello =)

deathschool
November 22nd 2015


21927 Comments


Hi.

brainmelter
November 23rd 2015


4568 Comments


ayyy

Digging: Infester - To the Depths... In Degradation

Ashen
November 23rd 2015


1397 Comments


sweet, i will be checking this

TheSupernatural
November 24th 2015


1661 Comments


Came for the name, stayed for the music. This is good shit. Only 3 songs on SoundCloud though, where's the rest of it?

Flugmorph
November 24th 2015


17436 Comments


lmao






sounds awesome

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2015


7503 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

@ TheSupernatural - The mini-album only drops on Dec 4th...that's probably why the rest of the songs aren't there (I reviewed a promo copy - staff perks haha).



I take it you liked what you heard, though? How would you rate this?

TheSupernatural
November 24th 2015


1661 Comments


From the 3 songs, either a 3.5 or 4. I actually enjoyed "Same Shit", though probably more from a musical standpoint than a lyrical one.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2015


7503 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I've a feeling you'll like the rest of the mini-album then, TheSupernatural. "No Connection" is probably the best track on the record (sadly it isn't available for public consumption yet).

BMDrummer
November 29th 2015


14026 Comments


well then

elcrawfodor
November 30th 2015


1264 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sounds pretty interesting, just hope I remember to check the full thing when it comes out

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You had me at 'it’s Fugazi by way of the Pogues'. Going on what I've heard so far I'd like the vocals to have had a bit more 'punch' but... it's still promising. I'll check it when it drops.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 3rd 2015


7503 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Agree - Siegel is a bit too nasal and slightly high-pitch-y to add some REAL venom or verve to a song, but for all intents and purposes I guess it's still pretty solid. Do check the rest when it drops this Friday!

elcrawfodor
December 4th 2015


1264 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just listened to the whole thing, agreed with Aaron that the vocals lack any punch, but at least he's pleasant to listen to. It's like a Steven Wilson who can actually sing. The music in the two longer tracks are really well done, especially the drums in the closer.



I read up on the Michael Hastings incident that No Connection is about, the song makes much more sense after reading about it.

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
December 5th 2015


5770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This was pretty sweet. Downhill, Future Shock, and No Connection are really solid

Came for the name, stayed for the music [2]

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 5th 2015


7503 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

There's n-n-n-n-n-no connection

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 7th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I must admit, I thought his voice would annoy me after a while but it went the other way when I gave it a full listen. Hopefully they'll release a proper, full fat LP at some point cos they could definitely do great things. Ones to keep an eye on, they could be my new Harvey Danger.

mianusman11
December 16th 2015


1 Comments


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danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2015


11545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Damn, not nearly as big on "No Connection" as most people here. Still, pretty solid stuff upon first listen.

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2015


11545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Okay, upon further listens I must say that tune's grown on me a bit, EP's pretty great as well.



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