Shortcut—The Nein’s Luxury

By Pat Skahill

For those looking for a step beyond the usual, Luxury, the latest release by North Carolina post-punk revival quartet The Nein, is a brilliant success. Abandoning the typical guitar, bass, and drum rock-group format, Luxury is full of disconnected tracks, inane sampling, and cryptic, often nonsensical, vocals that somehow coalesce into an idiosyncratic and satisfying album. Ripe with conflicting sounds, Luxury is sometimes spooky, sometimes ambient, and sometimes downright post-punk. Even with such a wide breadth of material, the transitions are smooth and the album’s bold eclectic style emerges as its most commendable feature.

At times, The Nein’s album is a snapshot of absurdity. Luxury will feature synthesizers layered over distorted guitar shards and poppy vocals, and then seconds later the listener will be confronted with startlingly pensive acoustic guitar plucks layered over the melancholy vamping of a distant organ. As the album progresses, the pleasant chords of “Sweet Vague” rapidly give way to Luxury’s standout track, “Decollage.” Here all elements of The Nein’s sonic diversity fuse together—catchy melodic lines and baroque chorus progressions mix with wailing vocals, a pulsating drum kit, and predictably bizarre tape samples. “Decollage” is a song with such a wide palette that it takes several listens to pull out the meticulous details.

Upon listening to it initaially, one may find oneself resistant to The Nein’s unique musical stylings, but Luxury’s unpredictable and experimental nature rewards multiple listens. In so brazenly and effectively missing this mark, The Nein have created a strong album that never takes itself too seriously. As “Landscape” brings the album to a close, the group jokingly dismisses the enterprise in a bout of laughter: “This is preposterous,” they laugh, “This is wrong.”