Nots will play at JJ's Bohemia on May 31 in support of their new album, '3', out Friday on Goner Records.
Review for Nots:
This is the Memphis band's third full-length and their first as a trio. The hypnotic and seductive lead single, "Half Painted House" is "about being stuck in a haze of repetitive cycles while change proves to be both stubborn and elusive.
"The veneer of what it looks like to be 'normally functioning' during these tumultuous times is peeling to reveal a mind struggling to keep from turning against itself," explains Nots' Natalie Hoffmann.
After you begin to peel back the layers of '3' -- unearthing every writhing guitar squall and every piercing vocal melody -- the spirit of the record comes into much clearer focus. "Once we really leaned into the space that being a three-piece afforded us, our writing started to make better sense and connect," explains guitarist-keyboardist-vocalist Natalie Hoffmann. "It made for a more interesting record than if we stayed comfortable and safe in the way we were writing."
"More interesting" is a classic hard undersell. When Alexandra Eastburn left Nots in 2018, the threat of losing the gnarled texture or her hammering synth progressions resulted in some real growing pains for the band. But once the newly anointed threesome arrived at Bunker Audio in Memphis to record with trusted engineer and friend Andrew McCalla, each member had embraced Nots fresh identity. Rather than abandon the noisy synth attack, Hoffmann instead decided to add another role to her expanding sonic arsenal. After the record began to take form, it felt much more accurate to understand '3' as a different force altogether from its Goner predecessors, 'Cosmetic' (2016) and 'We Are Nots' (2014).
Themes of lost control and societal division are spread throughout '3'. They can be heard not only via Hoffmann's reverb-drenched drawl, but also in the sneaky tightness between drummer Charlotte Watson and bassist Meredith Lones that occasionally (and quickly) devolves into a beautiful, reckless cacophony before shoring back up again (see opener "Low" as excellent proof). Elsewhere, on cuts like "Persona" and "Rational Actor," Nots explore the loss of reality in performance and just how exhausting it can be to navigate the blurry line between playing an actor and playing human. It's all pretty heady stuff, no doubt, but because Nots tracked and recorded '3' live -- as has been their way with all of their albums -- they were also able to infuse it with what Hoffman describes as "an intensity and improvisational energy."
So to what does that ultimately amount? A dark, unpredictable, raucous, liberating, and bold tour de force of a third record from the Memphis three-along with a strong impression that the best still yet to come. '3' sees its release May 10 on Goner Records.