Nü Sensae’s second full-length release, Sundowning, sees Andrea Lukic (vocals/bass) and Daniel Pitout (drums) joined by axeman Brody McKnight, whose presence brings numerous rewards for the group as a creative unit, heard over the album’s fourteen blistering tracks. The group has retained their ferocity and pulse-pounding punk energy, while gaining, with McKnight, the full realization of their sound.
All the best elements of this new lineup are crystallized early on in the stellar “Swim,” which sounds set to be Nü Sensae’s most buzz-worthy tune. Atonal, jagged riffing assaults the listener before Lukic and Pitout barrel into the mix with jackhammer rhythms. Lukic’s vicious howl reminds one of Pretty on the Inside-era Courtney Love for all the right reasons, seamlessly shifting between animalistic snarling and a deadpan talk-singing delivery.
Nü Sensae races through Sundowning with breathtaking power and abrasive anger. “Burnt Masks” shows the group’s strong sense of dynamic range, slowing the tempo momentarily before throwing the listener back to the wolves. The rage expressed particularly through Lukic’s vocals is almost an entity unto itself, the intangible fourth member that unites the group’s musical focus.
That is not to say that Sundowning is a one-sided affair, nor is the group a one trick pony. Nü Sensae offer brief moments of respite from their visceral brand of punk. “Tea Swamp Park” is another highlight as its driving tribal drumming and chant-like vocals capture the listener in an enthralling yet brief hypnotic trance. It’s psychedelic, but mired in the worst sort of vibes.
Sundowning is a real witch’s brew of punk, grunge, and riot grrl influences. It’s a beast that foams at the mouth and only rarely eases its unrelenting assault on the listener. This latest release is a snapshot of a young group at their most driven. Despite the album’s title, the sun is shining for Nü Sensae. Many bright days await this trio.