Nude Model - Love Games (Cover Artwork)

Nude Model

Love Games (2021)

No Trend Records

I’ll admit I’m not intensely familiar with what usually falls under the umbrella of post-punk, so I don’t have all the right adjectives to describe what Nude Model are doing on their second full-length, Love Games. Even without that lingua franca, I can still appreciate the hell out of these nine tracks over the course of a brisk twenty-five minutes. Lingo or not, I know what I like and I know when something is done well, and Love Games falls smoothly into both categories.

The hallmarks are all here, with jarring, atonal chords and pounding drums driving the whole thing forward (“No Frequency,” “Solid Solid Gold”). One of the unique flourishes is the addition of all this hypnotic percussion (and handclaps!), adding a neat little twist to songs like “Solid Solid Gold,” “No Frequency,” or “Red”. “Solid Solid Gold” is easily one of the highlights here. I don’t think Nude Model ever thought, ‘let’s write a catchy song,’ and the record as a whole is not angling to be a catchy, easy to sing-along-to one, but “Solid Solid Gold” inevitably ends up super catchy. More often than not though, we get a jumble of crunchy chords and walls of noise or tunefully used feedback, like in “Tuffy Fluffy” or “Ice Storm,” the latter another standout for alternating that dissonant noise with mid-tempo, mellow verses.

Vocalist Michael Guarrine delivers an incredible performance, dancing all over the place with his delivery, from a quiet whisper to a chaotic, high-pitched shout. He’s equally adept at a smooth, sugary sing-song in the almost cheery “Station,” which sometimes feels like if Pink Floyd were art-punks, to the haunting whisper in “Red,” which feels absolutely eerie, with a melancholic melody, creepy noises, and a simply masterful vocal diversity. “Heartbeat” has this repetitive, trance vibe, with a steady, almost imperceptible build before fading out, with Guarrine guiding you throughout your trip. Closer “Match Light Bingo” is a fucking banger to go out on and maybe the most traditional ‘punk’ song here.

Everything that’s cataloged under post-whatever has a penchant for noodling, for dragging out songs with repetitive chords or noise that often feels unnecessary. That doesn’t happen here. There’s no noise or show-off just for the sake of it; everything is short and to the point. Even the longest song, “Heartbeat,” feels much shorter than it’s near five-minute run time. Moments fly by, often without ever feeling all that fast. That’s the masterful stroke that Nude Model executes on Love Games – nothing here feels unnecessary. They’ve trimmed out all the excess, leaving you with a crisp slap of sometimes arty, sometimes chaotic post-punk. However you want to phrase it, that’s an excellent accomplishment.