By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Sister Polygon; 2017]
Key Tracks: “JJ,” “Nicki,” “Nothing Feels Natural”
No record feels as relevant to today’s toxic political climate than Nothing Feels Natural, the debut full-length from DC punks Priests; but you can kind of say that about any other of their releases. From their start in 2012 to their 2014 EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power, Priests have been challenging systematic discrimination in American culture and the guiltless consumerism that plagues the modern world. It’s never subtle either; take the iconic lyric from their 2014 track “And Breeding”, where singer Katie Alice Greer screams at the top of her lungs, “Barack Obama killed something in me / And I’m gonna get him for it.” The band’s usual surf-rock vibes and lack of political subtleness are as present as ever on Nothing Feels Natural, which doesn’t really do anything new lyrically for the band, but their instrumentals and production have never sounded better.
The opening track, “Appropriate”, begins like any other Priests’ song; it’s a fast-paced banger drenched in heavy drums, melodic bass, noisy guitars and Katie Alice Greer’s classic screaming vocals. Listening to it feels like being at home, home being the sweat and beer-covered floor of your local punk bar. But out of nowhere, everything slows down and becomes dreary. Then, a new sound comes into the mix that hasn’t been present in a Priests song before: a saxophone. What comes next is a droning, hellish soundscape that builds up and morphs into utter chaos, with Greer screaming and the saxophone squeaks the life out of itself until it scares the listener shitless.
“JJ” follows, which brings the same surf-like sound Priests have perfected, but the piano added into the mix makes the entire song feel sweeter than usual. It’s a great song reflecting teenage love and regrettable crushes and cliques, and when you listen to it once, it will never leave your head.
Written by the band’s drummer Daniele Daniele, “No Big Bang” is a claustrophobic spoken word piece about the struggles of creativity. It’s another track on this record that really sticks with you, with strange yet relatable lines like “those moments when your mind becomes a rocket” and “All I want is to die / Not so much die as be undone / To go back and undo it all.” The title track, “Nothing Feels Natural,” acts as the punk anthem of the millennial generation, a group of people who feel stuck and confused in a pit of despair. Greer’s emotions of anger and hopelessness and prominent in her vocal delivery, making the chorus “No it’s not for anyone and I can’t wait until it’s done” even more painful to sing along to.
Nothing Feels Natural is truly one of the most unique punk records to be released in recent memory. Every single track present feels delicately crafted to perfection, with every single element having a purpose. It was definitely a risk for Priests to put these new elements in Nothing Feels Natural, but what came out of it was a truly unforgettable experience.