Nape Neck

Reviews

Nape Neck Look Alive cassette

The UK’s leading jabbers and scrabblers NAPE NECK return with the follow-up to their absolutely bruising self-titled 2020 cassette debut, and somehow they’ve managed to squeeze the vice even tighter on Look Alive. Vocals from all three band members push and pull against one another, fighting for space in a claustrophobic crush of caustic sheet metal six-string scrape and a frenetic, lockstep rhythmic rumble, like the DOG FACED HERMANS or the EX if they had come up through artist lofts rather than anarcho squats. The exquisitely ERASE ERRATA-esque “Aim Slow” scratches and slides through a cycle of needling guitar and staccato bass grind before breaking down into abstracted-from-language shouts punctuating the title imperative; blink-and-you-missed-it chorus clangs of cowbell provide some limber post-punk-funk release in the otherwise hermetically pressurized “Kiss Me Boy, I’m Dying;” “Warm Air” spirals around a Möbius strip bass line, bisected by an anxious and agitated/coolly collected call-and-response vocal tradeoff—but anxious almost always wins out with NAPE NECK. No wave for the now!

Nape Neck Nape Neck cassette

NAPE NECK is a trio from Leeds playing post-punk that’s simultaneously tangled and taut, danceable and destructed, all while resisting any attempts to be easily situated as the latest addition to a specific geographic and genre-based continuum that stretches back to GANG OF FOUR and DELTA 5. There’s definitely some echoes of Andy Gill’s razor-edged guitar scratch in the mix, but if anything, NAPE NECK’s knotted rhythms and the intersecting/overlapping vocal shouts from all three band members bring to mind the mid ’90s neo-No Wave revival led by bands like MELTDOWN and SCISSOR GIRLS (or in the early ’00s, ERASE ERRATA), who drew inspiration from the spiky tension of first wave UK post-punk but translated it through the more wild and free tendencies of DNA-descended downtown art-noise. “No Platforming” and “Paperweight” are all clipped Morse code rhythms and sharply punctuated lyrical declarations, while the delirious, snaking guitar and dueling vocals in “Job Club” push against steady bass throb and stark, calculated beats as NAPE NECK effortlessly walk the tightrope between chaos and calm. An absolutely savage debut, and probably the most exciting new band I’ve heard in at least a few years.