Wrath Of Circuits
By: Eric Greenwood
The Nein's brand of sound-effects-laden, angular rock hints at the dance-punk trend but never fully embraces it. The hooks are there, off and on, but they aren't nearly obvious enough to get commercial radio play. Instead of catering to prospective playlists, The Nein explores a more experimental yet still too-familiar path lined with references to Gang of Four, Southern Records bands like 90 Day Men, and Wire.
The success of latching onto Gang of Four's jerky rhythms has reached a level of ubiquity that renders copycats practically meaningless. Quirky, danceable rock with post-punk roots reached its apex in 2004 with Franz Ferdinand's cheeky new wave redux leading the pack. The Nein isn't exactly setting its sights on Franz Fedinand's teen fan base, though- its music is far too difficult for that, but the wiry, off-kilter beats pay homage to many of the same references, despite the musical disparity.
The grumbling bass lines recall the thick sound of mid-90's Touch and Go bands, particularly The Jesus Lizard, but The Nein lacks that band's caustic aggression. On Wrath of Circuits, The Nein's first proper full-length, the tempos all too often meander into directionless drones, while the vocals portray a thin, bratty, post-punk posturing that tends to grate when not underpinned by a catchy chorus.
The Nein seems too detached from any recognizable emotion to tap into anyone's sympathies for anything other than mutual appreciation of better bands. The self-consciously, too-clever-by-half song titles are indicative of the band's apprehension of making a genuine emotional connection on any level. The lyrics are nonsensical, non-sequiturs that leave me little reason to care.