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Review: No More Wires Ever for the Coathangers on ‘Nosebleed Weekend’

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The curse of making it look easy is that you get taken for granted. (Duh, right?) You might notice more dynamic shifts in the Coathangers’ fifth album, Nosebleed Weekend, if there were any seams showing. But that would mean it would be a weaker record. This is why the idea of art being interesting and art being good don’t always intersect — the Coathangers haven’t managed to accrue much of a myth over their nine-year existence, unless you count Bradford Cox doing the cover art for their self-titled 2007 debut.

They began as hilarious slop, with songs about Tonya Harding, boob-nestling, and “twat”-punching. The untrained yelps, accidental riffs, and amateurish command of instruments on their excellent first two albums echoed Delta 5 and Kleenex/LiLiPUT before them. Then, around 2011’s water-treading Larceny and Old Lace, they started to Get Serious, keyboardist Candice Jones left, and the remaining trio collapsed their various energies and noises into less wiry, thicker-chorded punk for 2014’s amazing Suck My Shirt. What once had the thin fortitude of a house of cards now has a super-glued foundation; the idea of Nosebleed Weekend is that there aren’t any f**kups. If it turns you off that you can fit their entire artistic version through a pinhole, you’re missing out on a great band. Ramones weren’t exactly thinkpiece-worthy either.

It’s not that Nosebleed Weekend is numbingly uniform or anything — just that its excellence and momentum vastly outweigh one’s ability to describe it. You could say it’s more garage rock than Suck My Shirt in its slightly stunted tempos and spotless production; the retromania of “I Don’t Think So” recalls Those Darlins’ Screws Get Loose, another triumph of form rendered quasi-obscure for not expanding the medium. The up-and-down-the-neck dissonance of the militaristic highlight “Watch Your Back” recalls Thurston Moore, as its call-response chorus does early Divinyls. “Perfume” and “Hiya” lead with their blunt-tipped riffs, and subtly impressive harmonies bring up the rear. “Nosebleed Weekend” is Nuggets gold catchier than a whole stack of Ty Segall and King Khan 7-inches. And the girls’ commitment to long-dead dance-punk on the hi-hat madness of “Burn Me” and the Kathleen Hanna special “Squeeki Tiki” is as “innovative” as they get. The latter’s fitted with an actual chew toy as a hook; ain’t they want to get it on?

But the Coathangers’ anachronistic place in the 2016 cosmos only makes them less generic than they seem. Sure, “Copycat” is the only break from rave-up mode and Suck My Shirt has the slight edge because it’s both faster and slower. “Squeeki Tiki” is the only callback to the riotous humor and screaming unpredictability of their immature years. But there isn’t an exposed wire or uncontrolled dissonance in earshot, and it doesn’t need them; Screws Get Tight would be more fitting nomenclature. Who knew that even in punk, practice could make perfect?

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