Rejoinder EP by NaisianRelease date: July 6, 2018
Let’s face it, comeback recordings are usually rubbish, right? I can only really think of one that has genuinely lived up to expectations – GY!BE smashed it out of the park when they came back; most other comebacks have been fair to middling at best. So what do I make of the return of Sheffield bruisers Naisian after more than 6 years absence? Will they buck the trend? In short, yes.
Rejoinder is a remarkably blunt attack of an EP. In comparison to some of the sprawling songs in their back catalogue, the songs captured on this release feel pared down and focused, leading to a sound that feels akin to the last couple of Kowloon Walled City records, where unnecessary complexity has been cut out to leave the central essence of the songs – Naisian of old were occasionally prone to over-complicating their songs and putting too much into their songs, which can be a tricky balancing act – done right it adds layers of complexity, done badly and it ends up as a smug mush, and there’s not much distance between the two. Rejoinder side-steps this entirely by paring back the song-writing, brutally editing the song lengths and delivering a focus on emotional heft far more successfully than before.
They’ve also managed to achieve this without sacrificing the sacred art of the riff; each song is crowned with at least one beast of a riff, in fact ’90ft. Stone’ wastes no time in opening the EP with a cracker, before gruff throaty vocals below over it. The song has a groove and a swing to it that is pretty irresistible, coming across as a cross between Kowloon Walled City and early Isis, with a touch of early Helmet, all supported by a muted but impactful production, that is balanced and percussion heavy. ‘Mantis Rising’ brings the riff with a touch of dissonance; bringing to mind a slowed down Botch in places; again the simple song-writing and structures provide a level of space which bizarrely feels quite claustrophobic. The mid song call-and-response vocals and gang vocals are fantastic too.
Closer ‘Lefole’ continues the trend but takes the gas off the riff pedal in the mid-section in a manner that is reminiscent of excellent UK post-hardcore heroes Montana and cult UK band Flatlands; I listened to the record before reading the press bumph and after I realised that part of the reason for this reference is the presence of Mike Shields (ex. Flatlands) on guest vocals. ‘Lefole’ is probably the most emotionally dynamic song on the record and one of the highlights.
All in all this is a pretty cracking return to the scene. Naisian is older, wiser and there’s a refreshing maturity to the song-writing. This EP doesn’t feel like the output of a group of musicians that are trying to show off their chops anymore, but are focusing on the needs of the song. I’d like to hear more of this, I think the sound would benefit from a more long-form album, but as a taster, this flavoursome and exciting.