- Baltimore's Matt Papich has called his musical style "New Anything," and he's spent several years trying to live up to the description. Daydream Repeater repurposed canonical pop in relatively straight loop tracks. 2013's Moody Coup was more sophisticated, its dub-pop collages sometimes hitting a poignant note. On No No, Papich's skills are yet more developed, but it's as if he's overshot the mark. The diverse components of his music, briefly brought into harmony, are once again zooming away from one another in a dozen directions. The album's fiendishly clever songs do indeed feel "new." They're also, often, deeply annoying.
Fitting of an artist whose name pulls apart one of the world's most ubiquitous words, Papich approaches modern culture with an ear for nonsense. No No is scattered with modern life's discards: dogs barking, distant sirens, the click and hiss of an opening soda can, yawns, coughs, laughter. But Papich doesn't try to decipher the avalanche so much as revel in it. Track titles like "Noon (Blue)" and "Suffering (Tuesday)" suggest confessional introspection, but the music doesn't. The former track's blasts of church choir and Benny Hill sax are far too glib for that; the latter one gallops through ideas at a bewildering speed.
Papich's peers are on the fringes of global club music. On a track like "Barricade" (the album's sparsest and best), strange percussive sounds are sprayed across the grid à la Lotic. "Squeeze"'s dubby bassline, pushing against a sparse rhythmic frame, brings Shackleton to mind. But No No's most appealing quality is how it explodes the expectations of club music. When a torrent of white noise washes "No No" almost clean, it's difficult not to marvel at the audacity.
The jarring R&B crescendos in "Crank," however, prove Papich's curveballs aren't always successful. He's also averse to moments of real beauty; they're often undermined by a sonic pratfall, like the explosion of screams and squeaky toys in "Shrink." Papich has an explanation for this: No No addresses the "never ending psycho-drama that is the American news cycle," and uses humour as a "coping strategy." But if the album is a response to the mind-numbing repetition and sledgehammer-subtle narratives of modern news media, then its answer—archness and a chronic lust for novelty—isn't much better. Much like switching on a 24-hour news channel, No No is engrossing for the first ten minutes or so. Then the parade of lurid images continues, and sure enough, they give you a headache.
04. No No
05. Noon (Blue)
06. Suffering (Tuesday)
11. I Comb My Hair (Bonus Track)