New War // Live Review

KOKO – December 2nd

new war

Strutting back and forth across the stage over and over in perfectly retraced steps, frontman Chris Pugmire’s behaviour mirrors the air of building unease that defines New War. Their relentless, cyclical basslines and clipped rhythms throb with an obsessive compulsive pulse that’s often as hair-raising as it is dance-inducing.

That edge of disquiet is perhaps the only inheritance from Pugmire and bassist Melissa Lock’s formative act, estimable Seattle-based riot grrrls Shoplifting. Though they remain loosely connected to that scene via Gossip guitarist Nathan’s Fast Weapons label (ATP Recordings here in the UK), sonically they’ve tightened up and morphed into a minimalist post-punk leviathan, piling on the intensity via the simple trick of repetition.

Sometimes restrained (‘Ghostwalking’), elsewhere snarling with Suicide-fed antipathy (the resolutely gnarled ‘Slim Dandy’), New War work effectively within that compressed framework of moods. That it feels like a show of confidence rather than a lack of imagination is entirely down to them.

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Buy: New War – New War