The Coathangers Nosebleed Weekend Suicide Squeeze
Atlanta punk rock trio The Coathangers have championed the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach both loudly and proudly in the ten years they’ve been making music together. 2016 sees them ring in their double-digit birthday with a fifth studio album, Nosebleed Weekend – but there comes a time when having a pop at it becomes a legitimate day-job, and unfortunately Julia Kugel, Meredith Franco and Stephanie Luke sound sterilised by their hard-earned experience.
Nosebleed Weekend saw the trio take to Valentine Studio in California. Once witness to the Beach Boys and Frank Zappa, the recording studio fell into disrepair and producer Nic Jodoin undertook a mammoth clear-up job on the 1980s time-capsule. The Coathangers are the first band to record there since its renovation, but the album’s smoother, poppier production can’t mask the fact that Nosebleed Weekend resolutely refuses to take many risks. Where the band’s self-titled, mid-noughties debut was characterised by a sloppy lack of professionalism, it felt all the more thrilling for it. The Coathangers circa 2016 employ a solid, tried and tested structure thirteen times over, with very little urgency.
The record’s most convincing tracks – Had Enough and Down Down – owe debt to The Distillers’ Brody Dalle, with gravelled, commanding delivery and vigorous basslines. But elsewhere, as on album-opener Perfume, you’ll find formulaic three-minuters as the band lead you through all the motions of a punk-rock brooder without ever coming to the crunch. Early single Make It Right is refreshed by poppy, “woah-oh” backing vocals on an otherwise gritty enough rock track, but when the trio attempt true theatrics – like on the creepy, stagnant Copycat – it just feels forced. Nosebleed Weekend is a by-the-books punk rock record; a straightforward listen, but unforgivably inoffensive.