It's hard to put my finger on what it is about Naomi Punk that makes me consume their music in a probably unhealthy manner. The songs on their second album, Television Man (out August 5), are so fascinatingly repetitive that playing them over and over feels especially unhinged. Since I had a similar experience with their 2010 debut album, The Feeling (reissued in 2012 on Captured Tracks), I guess it's safe to say I really dig this band. Or I'm insane. Both? Both!
An introduction: Naomi Punk are an Olympia/Seattle trio. Singing and guitar-playing are done by Travis Coster, drumming by Nick Luempert, and other guitar-playing by Neil Gregerson. Their formula isn't really all that complicated: I guess it's more an exercise in how layering and deconstruction can recalibrate what "catchy" might mean (as in, weird music doesn't have to be an unlistenable art project).
While Television Man is more angular and snotty than their melty debut, they share similar pacing, canorous heave, and a two-flavor formula: grating/deft noise tracks and zoned-out wobbly drift tunes. If we're genre-lizing, I could see calling it something cool like "abstract post-grunge," in the sense that they're expanding on our proud heritage of expertly disaffected/hidden vocals balanced by oozy hooks that grip through sneering chaos.
One of my favorite tracks, "Song Factory," seems to start mid-song, the drums laying down serious racket. Coster sounds like he's singing into a fan and having a sleepy tantrum laced with soft ooooohhhs (Naomi Punk are really good at ooooohhhs). "California Truth" is slowed down to a dextromethorphan pace with ultra-stoned vocals ("Yeeeaahhhh") drifting under a warped riff. On the more difficult tip, "Eon of Pain" makes good on the name with four minutes of straight monotonous guitar stab-stab-stabbing. "Plastic World No. 6" is syrupy and spaced-out, full of fuzzy, malfunctioning synth. The songs sound like rough drafts or alternate sketches of each other, which is actually a welcome alternative to the "every single thing you do has to be some huge leap from the last thing" mantra. Because if it ain't broke... or at least if it is broke, it's working.