No Knife

Drunk on the Moon

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No Knife's debut, recorded with the rough aplomb and skill expected from San Diego legend Mark Trombino, found the quartet grabbing hold of a strong but yearning sound that finds a strong personal connection throughout. The endlessly recycled emo tag got stuck to the band here and there as a result, but there's little sense of weepy melodrama, largely due to Wilson's generally focused delivery -- he balances out his more clipped lines with a softer edge while not always stretching out syllables or wildly screaming. He's aware of singing first and foremost, and even at his shrillest moments never lacks control. Sometimes, as can be heard on the beautiful "Punch 'n' Judy," he suggests the wasted and winsome Neil Young fetish common in much '90s rock without actually coming off as a clone, a worthy result, balancing off slice-of-life observations with sometimes cryptic, sometimes poetic imagery. The stop/start/turn-on- a-dime tempos of many songs suggest a bit of math rock love -- and maybe even prog here and there? -- but the energy is a more mid-pace focus, coming across as a friendlier, less epic Drive Like Jehu (though "Small of My Back" gets pretty close), something to nod one's head to slowly. The punnily titled "Ginger Vitus" features steady up-and-down guitar figures, and "At the Heart of the Terminal" is practically instrumental. "Ephredine" could almost be an early Black Sabbath song with the main riff -- and after all, at one point Wilson sings "Kiss me with the devil's breath." Add in galloping fun like "...If I Could Float..." and "Habits," the latter of which balances its full-on chug with a sudden restraint in the choruses, and the high-speed punch of "Kiss Your Killer," and Drunk on the Moon makes for a promising debut indeed.

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