7.6

The Abjects: Never Give Up Review

Music Reviews The Abjects
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The Abjects: <i>Never Give Up</i> Review

With members from Italy, Japan and Spain playing music together in London, the Abjects are a persuasive three-woman rejoinder to the closed-border zealotry going around like a bad stomach bug. That is, if you like blaring garage-rock that’s as pointed as it is trashy fun—and why wouldn’t you? The Abjects even offer a response to self-sabotaging nationalism with “Fuck Brexit,” a self-explanatory blast of churning power chords, bass, drums and harmony vocals that also features a nimble guitar lick scuttling around in the background.

Guitarist Noemi, bassist Yuki and drummer Alice make effective use of those elements throughout Never Give Up, their debut LP. They tend to play fast, thrashing through tunes that teeter like cars on a rickety roller coaster. Opener “Aburrido” (Spanish for “bored) starts with six seconds of noise that might as well be the sound of a fuse that sends the song zooming off the launch pad when the riff kicks in over a cacophonous explosion of drums. Corrosive wah-wah guitar snaps and snarls over sleazy fuzztone bass on “The Storm,” and “Dream Song” pogos maniacally through jagged shards of guitar and deceptively sweet vocal harmonies.

Though “Fuck Brexit” and “The Storm” are more overtly political, it’s not all slashing screeds against know-nothingism. Personal resilience is a theme, too: the Abjects are pushing past the impulse to procrastinate on “Mañana,” a glowering tune that Noemi sings in Spanish amid savage lead guitar lines. “The Secret,” about struggling to get real with a loved one, digs into a vintage garage-rock sound with surf-y guitar leads, while “Surf” makes the ’60s surf-rock connection more obvious, and adds wordless vocals and bursts of shuddering tremolo.

Each of the 11 songs on Never Give Up communicates some piece of the Abjects’ world-view, but the title track wraps it all into one rambunctious bundle of bristling guitar and pell-mell rhythm. Written when Noemi was back in Spain and Yuki had returned to Japan, the song confronts the musicians’ uncertainty about the future of the band before resolving into an ethos that’s easy to understand, in any language: they’re in it to have some fun, drink some beers, and kick ass onstage. That makes the title of the song, and the album, into something more like a request: please, never give up.

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