Post-Punk is more a place on a musical timeline than any meaningful conceptual handle, too broad to be insightful, too vague to carry any deep meaning. But if we take it to encapsulate a place that fits between the end of first wave 70’s punk and the rise of Brit-Pop/Grunge, depending on which side of the ocean you happened to reside, then Nostalgist are very much a post-punk band. Or they would be if they weren’t releasing Disaffection a quarter of a century after the original scene. But then I guess that the clue is in the name.
And yet somehow they have managed to produce an album which seems to draw together so many musical strands that the original scene was centred on, Disaffection seems less like a rose-tinted revisit and more like the result of a sonic possession. And whereas first time around those various strands were separated by the tribal allegiances of the time, today they seem natural bed fellows, weaving around each other in a way that they never did before. It means that you get blasted gothic tones delivered as shoegazery, dark brooding pop laced with ethereal dreamscaping, punk as art and rock music envisaged as slow moving industrial grooves. The difference is that the original scene was more a bunch of disparate musical tribes held together by shared artistic sensibilities and outsider status, Nostalgist, with the luxury of hindsight and the overview allowed by the passage of time, finally turn it into a cohesive sound. A sound which, intentionally or otherwise, sums up the alternative 80’s scene like no band of the time ever quite managed to.
Smoldering Amber comes on like Killing Joke delivering one of their less frantic art attacks, all anticipation and resonance, sonic weight and deliberation, Present Tense reminds us of Fields of The Nephilim’s ability to build fantasy worlds that mixed blasted guitars with shimmering riffs and the wonderfully named Threshed At Dusk, Winnowed at Dawn wanders through some brooding and ultra heavy new pop. Nailing their colours firmly to the past, they sign off with a cover of Catherine Wheel’s Texture, and such is Nostalgists ability to evoke the era, they do a remarkable job of reminding us of the song, and indeed the band, in all its glory.
Disaffection is both an updating of the past for those who weren’t there and also a reminder for those that were. But in an age where ill conceived tribute acts and poorly executed covers versions rely on the nostalgia receptors of the listeners brain to fill in the gaps, here we have a band which are neither a cover or a tribute but a genuine evocation of past glories whilst peddling their own unique and amalgamated sound.