I’m tellin’ you it’s a banner year for post-punk and Oakland’s No Babies add another piece to the chewed glass puzzle of 2018 with their sophomore LP, Someone To Watch Over Me. The record, as with their debut, is built closer to punk’s beating heart, with frantic tempos propelling the accusatory throttle of Jasmine Watson’s vocals. The band pushes past the imaginary lines scratched in punk’s sand though, with a healthy lungful of sax skronk and some sandpaper conditioning to the guitar work of Ricky Martyr. Tracks jerk to a stop, crumple into metallic tumbles and knock all manner of jagged chunks out of the expected punk boilerplate. They remind me in a very good way of bygone Mexican punks XYX – a hole in my heart that I’m happy to fill.
The lyrics tend towards the progressive, as might befit the band’s barbed assault, working thorough screeds on consumer society, binary identity politics and police brutality. As such, in the tilt-o-whirl blur of 2018, the record has a vitality that’s palpable, delivered via sweaty as hell noise bursts bent on crumbling the roadblock consciousness of those that seek to pin them down. They’re channeling youthful exuberance into fuel for life, processing cathartic pogo politics into petrol for change. Someone To Watch Over Me, like classic works from Ni Hao or Afrirampo before it, is built on barely controlled chaos, bottled and funneled through a pinpoint at precise pressure. What sounds like an uncontrollable maelstrom from the eye of the storm is in reality a Rube Goldberg of sonic destruction when rolled back into focus. No Babies are architects of their own engine of change and working damn hard to crush the common consensus via twenty-five minutes of acid-stripped punk pummel.
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