Evidenced by the cover of their new album Master Cat, Brooklyn’s Hard Nips awaken audiences with a celestial air swirling through their brand of punk.
Hard Nips have always made brass and cheeky guitar driven music. It’s what kept them sounding fresh on previous releases where the instrumentation was a bit underwhelming. This release delivers the band’s lovable personality in a more purposeful manner. Most striking about Master Cat is the new and distinct sound the group has created.
Familiar driving guitars and bass are greeted with flourishes of dreamy production. Though Hard Nips can come off as goofy, they are never outright laughable. A few tracks even exchange a great deal of their trademark humor for beauty. An upfront baseline and sweet guitar riffs blend with high, drawn out synths and focused vocals from singer Yoko on “Alternative Dreamland.” The track is a flirty, festivial hallucination.
Other spots on the record trade psychedelic landscapes for brass charm. Risks in this area sound confident without being too self-important. Certain synth progressions are undoubtedly campy. Spoken word parts, call-and response verses, and gang vocals serve to add memorability. “Analog Guys” is a sharp cut that uses this to poke fun at men without being cruel. Almost cartoonish at times, there is something unreal about the world Hard nips have created. It is difficult not to imagine the 4 women floating on the cover using some sort of alchemy to create this batch of songs.
An ever present sense of self-awareness accompanies their most outlandish experiments. Most perplexing is how joyous the record sounds. The love of life felt by The Sugarcubes comes to mind as Hard Nips grab hold of any sound that intrigues them. It’s not something many punk bands would have created after going quiet and living through the past 4 years. The result is a musical carnival. Though it may take a few tracks, eventually there is no choice to get on board and marvel at what the group has conjured up.