Mates with sick punks like Downtown Boys and Sneaks, the debut album from Washington D.C.’s Priests occupies a neat space between The Julie Ruin and early My Bloody Valentine. ‘Pink White House’ is a jolly romp of stick-it-to-the-man-ness that also manages to reference a fair whack of canonic post-punk records, and there is plenty of shape-shifting across the record as they take in everything from desert rock to hardcore. Very cool.
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- Nothing Feels Natural by Priests
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8/10 Sam C. Customer review, 3rd May 2017
No album so far this year has stuck with me as much as this, the debut album proper by Washington D.C. punks Priests. Vocalist Katie Alice Greer comes across like Patti Smith at her cathartic, angry best, her lyrics taking in all comers from slumming rich posers on 'Jj' to social double standards and misogyny on 'Nicki' and 'Nothing Feels Natural' to hilarious brand misappropriation on 'Puff'. After all, not many bands can sing "Achieve your dreams Burger King" with this much joyful irony and bitter bile at the same time.
All flavours of punk are indulged, from sparser post-punk to Perfect Pussy-esque noise to the jazzy brss-bolstered closer 'Suck'. GL Jaguar's guitar ranging from hoppy surfer riffs to squalling noise; Daniele Daniele's drums start off pounding, retreat, smash back in and crash out with Taylor Mulitz just about tying everything together with the bass. Priests achieve variety without the usual resulting loss of focus. They never sound like they're being anyone but themselves. Even the spoken word poetry of 'No Big Bang' fits in comfortably without drawing you out of the overall atmosphere.
While there isn't a single weak track, 'Nothing Feels Natural' earns its being the title track by being the emotional centrepiece of the album. Greer's voice reveals a vulnerability only hinted at in the songs that came before, starting the song mournful and plaintive before building up and up in catharsis in time for the exuberant release of its close. Her voice rings with the honesty and truth of someone who has earned the right to sing about what she does.
Is it a perfect album? No, here and there a phrase or a note lands flatter than it ought to given the buzzsaw and space around it. But you could never accuse it of having nothing to say or of compromising on its sonics or message. Priests never waver on giving every song their all. The energy at its best is infectious.
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