By Zhenzhen Yu
On their self-titled debut EP (released April 2 via Dust Up!), Christchurch’s The Tacks deliver a tight 9 minutes of passionate, tumultuous, lo-fi post-punk (though The Tacks themselves, perhaps more eloquently, simply call it “goth”). Throwback comparisons such as these are inevitable, however, as the five-piece remarkably pinpoints the same wistful jangle pop atmosphere as classic groups such as Matkhaverskan or the Organ, while still invoking the dry, youthful, punk rock passion of Mission of Burma.
Frontwoman Nalita Anne sings in a low and ardent diatribe, carrying an intense gravitas while simultaneously remaining curiously and beautifully remote, as if she sings while gazing just above the audience’s eyes. From opener “Rat” alone, Anne saunters in with an coolly delivered confidence (“Every time it falls apart / it's too much pressure, breaks your heart”) before she slides down into the song’s dreamy hook, only letting a bite of accusation into her voice as she slurs, “I smell a rat.”
Meanwhile, “Merivale” cuts in with the perfectly calibrated thrum of the band’s traditional post-punk guitar tones, and “One Last Goodbye” hits a brighter moment of nostalgia, soaring into a dream pop haze, punctuated with star-like interjections. But, ultimately, the EP’s crown jewel is easily the penultimate “How Many Times” — the song immediately opens with the band shouting the titular line as Anne surges through her furiously distant vocals with the passion of a coursing sea. It carries all the pop energy of a classic post-punk revival single, while still maintaining the somber, solitary aura of modern gothic rock.
There isn’t a wasted note on the entire EP: all four songs are beautiful, streamlined pieces that don’t compromise any of the group’s lo-fi edge. You can appreciate the cloud of angst and nostalgia and love it possesses, but above all is the incredible sense of forwardness — The Tacks don’t let themselves slow down for a moment, and you instantly trust that this momentum will, effortlessly, take them even further on a fully realized LP.
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