Album Review: NE-HI by NE-HI (2014) (Manic Static)

I listen to music a lot. I have a job that basically entails staring at a vast array of spread sheets and statistics then making decisions about what group of my staff will implement and ultimately take the blame if the decisions turn out to be wrong (for that is the joys of higher end management!). Staring at spread sheets uses little more than my eyes and the occasional flexing of a mouse finger, meaning that my ears are free to listen to about 8-10 hours of music a day within the confines of my office.

NE-HI are one of those bands that have competed admirably for my aural attentions and affections over the last few years. Their latest latest 2017 full length release (Offers, with its stand out tracks of Don’t Wanna Know and Palm of Hand) made a mockery of the ‘difficult sophomore album’ adage and saw the band grow in maturity both from a lyrical and musical perspective. This made music journos who are far more qualified than myself, lavish critical acclaim upon them in huge dosages.

In my opinion this, their self titled 2014 debut, still eclipses Offers for several reasons. Initially the debut was far less lyrically dense. Tracks such as the mid-album brilliance of The Times I’m Not There and the true stand out You Tell Me (see below) seem to pick some sort of blithe topic, create a couple of lines of ‘text’ (for it has the feel of being somewhat too irrelevant to be considered important enough to be classed as a lyric) which they repeat a few times leaving regular huge voids of lyrical inactivity.

What this seemingly casual, haphazard approach to song craft does do, is provide plenty of room for the jangled twin assault guitar work of Jason Balla and Mikey Wells who fill in the gaps where the words ‘should be’ with something far better. This is manifested in the juxtaposition between a casual portrayal  of 1960s garage rock and something that stops short of the weirdness of the recent Australian psychedelic surf rock pop/rock scene, but still takes the more worthy essences of the more austere parts of a The Babe Radio type of band.

In fact this psyche/garage aesthetic is most prevalent when the tempo of tracks such as More and Sunbleed (see below) is significantly reduced to a mere jogging pace and the whole 1960’s influence is allowed to breathe along side the consistent foundation of laconic jangled riffs

I am sure I will eventually review the excellent Offers album eventually…after all I cannot play this forever, can I?

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