Naomi Punk, Television Man

Sam Lefebvre

By Sam Lefebvre

on 08.05.14 in Reviews

The conventional wisdom of songcraft extols the virtues of natural chord progressions and seamless rhythmic arrangements — truisms that Naomi Punk flippantly rebuffs. Television Man, the Pacific Northwest act’s follow-up to 2012′s The Feeling 12-inch, is musically disjointed, skittish and askew. The effect isn’t to dazzle with technicality or to confound with deliberate idiosyncrasies, but to take listeners on a circuitous ride to the song’s exalted musical peaks. It’s a ceaselessly forceful record, full of low-end blows that are felt more intensely due to the fact that the arrival schedule is so fickle. It’s also occasionally beautiful, namely when sustained vocal lines cascade across the syncopated bludgeoning of every crescendo.

Ceaselessly forceful and occasionally beautiful

The title track begins with a backbeat and power chords hard-panned in stereo. A choked triplet guitar lead prefaces staccato vocal delivery before mounting volleys of crash cymbal and bass frequencies open up into a melodious, victorious chorus. The arrangement style is exaggerated on “Eon of Pain.” It doesn’t bloom for three minutes, which makes the release feel all the more sublime. On Television Man, such cleansing moments seem deliberately withheld and used sparingly, as if Naomi Punk are keen not to dull their cathartic effect. Likewise, three tracks of dreamy keyboards function better as respites than as compositions in their own right.

The thing is, aside from the keyboard ditties, we’ve heard these songs before. “Linoleum Tryst #19″ and “Eons of Pain” appeared in different versions on a 2012 7-inch. Other album tracks appear to be retooled riffs and drum beats from The Feeling, with different lyrics. If Naomi Punk is deliberately reconstructing its own material, the group hasn’t said so. It could be a hopeful prank on fans, critics or Captured Tracks. Regardless, as the songs themselves illustrate, rock deconstruction is a slow process — and it entails repetition.