Nü Sensae | Sundowning

Suicide Squeeze
By ANNIE ZALESKI  |  August 21, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Grunge-punk shriekers Nü Sensae hail from Vancouver, and originally formed as the duo of bassist/vocalist Andrea Lukic and drummer Daniel Pitout. But any similarities to another noisy pair from the Western half of Canada (that would be the deliriously acclaimed Japandroids) are surface-only. That's apparent as soon as Nü Sensae's feral, urgent, and downright terrifying second album, Sundowning, kicks into gear. The contributions of recently added guitarist Brody McKnight flesh out the band's ramshackle, stripped-back sound; his menacing riffs and doomy style frequently give stampeding tracks such as "Burnt Masks" and "Dust" a distinct late-'80s-Sonic-Youth vibe. These extra layers of noise aren't a bad thing, although Nü Sensae occasionally sound like they're still finding balance as a trio, mainly on the latter part of the album. Still, McKnight's parts magnify the impact of Lukic's bellowing vocals — or, more specifically, her hysterical banshee screams, which are reminiscent of Babes In Toyland's Kat Bjelland and pre–Live Through This Courtney Love. Lukic wields her voice like a branding iron on much of Sundowning (the steamrolling "Swim" and punk sneers "100 Shades" and "Spit Gifting" are best) and even throws in the occasional creepy-calm spoken-word wails ("Eat Your Mind") for added effect. Her presence makes Sundowning cathartic — if not downright life-affirming.

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