Under Review

The Nein

Luxury (Sonic Unyon)

Review By Dave Fernig


During most of The Iliad, the runner Achilles sits in his tent trying to decide whether to fight and die or desert and live. It is fitting then, that “Achilles Last Tape Solo” is the best song on an album where The Nein, like Achilles, choose an undertaking that will ultimately lead to their defeat. Luxury, like the Greek warrior’s last battle, is a noble attempt at something they just couldn’t fully succeed at—a smooth synthesis of rock and electronic music.

The aforementioned song is by no means perfect, but it is a solid example of how awesome this experiment can be. All the elements are there, from strong melodies to computer cacophony, and they are not merely juxtaposed, but inextricably moulded together. Noisy tape manipulation cooperates with thumping acoustic drums, and discordant synth lines complement in-tune human voices.

Unfortunately, this standard is not met by the rest of the album. The problems that plague the songs vary from forgivably lazy amalgamations of electronics and rock, to unforgivably poor inventions of each. The first track, “Burn Construction,” is the strongest example of The Nein’s weakest tendencies. At its core, it begins as a bland modern rock radio-ready waltz, complete with played-out lyrics and a guitar line that is on par with even the most derivative post-grunge tune. It improves towards the end, but its flaws epitomize the album’s greatest failing: weak songwriting. The Nein could create a far more impressive album by writing a consistent batch of songs before busting out the moog and tape manipulation. And they should, because unlike the world of Greek epics, the world of American rock doesn’t grant you immortality for fighting a losing battle.