You don’t need to be a 19th century sociologist in order to enjoy Tennessee noise punks Nots. That being said, few bands have managed to capture the suffocating sense of societal anomie that has metastasized over the past many years quite as well.
For Nots, ignorance isn’t bliss. The truth might not be pretty, but the untruth is simply unacceptable. Armed with their instruments and the moral compasses they were born with, Nots’ music is neither condemning nor optimistic. They call things as they see it, which is equal parts refreshing and unsettling since no solutions are offered for our 21st century ailments.
Much more than a “worst of the worst” list set to music—the age of patriarchy, smartphone addiction, taboos of thinking or feeling too much, etc.—the trio’s songs sound like an observable personification of our incessant inner monologues and worries. And in that regard, there’s a shared comfort to be found in their bleak assessment of the world we’ve inherited and created.
Sonically, it’s tricky to separate Nots’ music from their on-stage performances, and not just because their various releases have been tracked live. Rather, it’s the Paul Revere-paced urgency of their music that demands a certain commitment to be present (or get lost) in the moment. The rhythms provided by drummer Charlotte Watson and bassist Meredith Lones switch between teeth-chattering-ly fast and two-drink-danceable, serving as the rational foil to Natalie Hoffman’s manic guitar, synth and vocals.
The push and pull between ethereal synth wanderings over rigid time kept signatures (“Half Painted House”, “Rational Actor”) are one of the distinguishing features of the band’s evolving sound following the departure of keyboardist Alexandra Eastburn in 2018. This forced change from four-piece to three-piece is not-so-subtly called to attention in the title of the band’s third LP ‘3’. Written and recorded as a trio and containing some of their best material, it’s clear that there isn’t a mourning for their old selves in the works.