Review by Sarah Williams.
If I had to criticise the previous two Nosebleed releases, their Something In My Head and It’s Alright EPs, I’d have to say that there’s simply not enough of them. This trio from Leeds have a talent for writing short, energetic punk ‘n’ roll ditties, enough to get the soberest of crowds cavorting madly around a dancefloor. If you do not want 22 minutes of solid gold hits then Nosebleed are not the band for you.
The problem with having a reputation for electrifying live performances, as Nosebleed have been building for themselves since 2014, is that the recorded equivalent is often a bit of a damp squib. That’s far from the case with their debut album Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor (up for preorder from TNS now). This record will have you jiving in your bedroom, in your kitchen, in your car, at the bus stop and spinning round on your office chair until your boss yells at you. Scratching Circles transports Nosebleed straight into your home, like Dickie’s set up his drum kit on your sofa, Ben’s stomping on your coffee table and Eliott’s spitting lyrics at your face while you try to calmly sip your morning brew.
There is a lot of new material on the album, plus some recycled hits from the previous releases. Reworking a handful of songs works in this context; Nosebleed are the kind of band who become even more appealing when you are familiar with the words, so opening the album with I’m Okay is the perfect way to draw the audience in. If you’ve seen Nosebleed live then you will already be a fan of Time And Time Again, Psycho and I Can’t Tell You Anything. Good news: the re-recorded/re-mastered versions are even more killer. The production’s got a lot more depth, richness and clarity that makes a world of difference.
The first new track is I’m Shaking which sets the scene for the lo-fi garage punk party we’ve dived into. There’s a lot of twangy rock ‘n’ roll riffs followed by grittier palm muted sections. Through the whole album, every single guitar solo makes you bust into a silly grin: this is proper, dirty punk ‘n’ roll just the way you like it.
Start Again has a really tense, tight little introduction; one example of Ben Hannah’s less often used lower-pitched vocal adding some depth to Nosebleed’s sound. It turns out that Ben has the perfect type of throaty drawl that you need for this brand of lo-fi rock.
I remember the band playing Everybody live in Ipswich last year, saying they were writing it on the fly – at the time Dicky couldn’t play it and Eliott was making up the lyrics, but they stormed it and it sounded fantastic. It sounds just as exciting and raw here, with some new lyrics, guitar licks and tongue-twisting noises woven in. The whole album carries the energy of something which has been written in the heat of the moment – something that sounds fleeting and exciting even when you’ve had it on repeat for 72 hours.
If there is a weakness in Scratching Circles its that the songs all sound similar but, frankly, I love how they sound so I’m happy to hear it repeated. There is a beauty in simplicity: Nosebleed do one thing and they do it very well. The exception to this rule is the title track of the album. Tension builds on the moody intro, before snappy angular art-rock guitars join the mix. This song gives the heady feeling of life on a rickety, wooden rollercoaster… rolling through ups and downs, twists and turns. Nosebleed are making a rock ‘n’ roll racket and they’re dragging you along for the ride.
Psycho remains one of my favourite album tracks, another example of Ben’s lower tones bringing a lot to the mix. The lyric, “Don’t know why I feel like this, but your happiness just makes me sick,” is delectably dark, I can’t get it out of my head. On the other hand, the re-worked version of I Can’t Tell You Anything sounds leagues ahead of the original recording, still anchored on one of those strong shout-back choruses that Nosebleed excel in.
There are no complex sonnets or lyrical trickey here, just a magic in repetition. It’s not the most intellectually challenging songwriting style, but who gives a fuck about what your head’s doing when your feet can’t stop moving and your heart’s skipping a beat? Instead, lyrically, you have sharp little off-the-cuff couplets and short pictures like on Wrong. That said, songs like the moody album closer What Have You Done? bring a lot more depth to this album that we’ve heard on Nosebleed’s earlier EPs. The track features a satisfying descent into distorted 6-string madness that closes the album.
Scratching Circles On The Dancefloor features 13 songs that clock in at a total of 22 minutes. Nosebleed have wasted no breath making this fast, rocking riot of a record, and they are showing no signs of slowing down.
You can pre-order Scratching Circles on The Dancefloor from TNS Records along with a new sweet Hasta La Muerte tee, in time for the release on April 6th. It’s available on white vinyl (400) and limited edition black vinyl (100) which also comes with a sheet of fetching transfer tattoos. If you’re a fan, don’t forget that you can join Nosebleed’s Lonely Hearts Club for some exclusive merchandise designed by the Reverend Eliott Verity himself.
You’d be a complete fool to miss any live dates Nosebleed are playing near you, and they’re all across the country to celebrate the release. There is a full list here, however highlights include Dugstock, Wonkfest, Outcider Festival, Boomtown and of course their album launch on April 7th (Wharf Chambers in Leeds with Snakerattlers, Riggots, Batwolf, Bones Shake and Guns on The Roof). Boom.
While you’re here, why not check out our interview with Nosebleed?
Review by Sarah Williams.