Silver Haze opens with a strange soundscape of warped guitar, a mellow drumbeat and an old family tape of children playing, then ends with a child's exclamation of the song title, "We're Different Now." It's a strong declaration of intent, especially coming from queer people of colour in punk. On Aye Nako's new album, difference is painted as both an obstacle (as expressed in the lyrics) and a strength (as the unconventional music stands out).
Aye Nako juxtapose at-times-jarring post-punk guitar parts with pretty, melodic, even catchy choruses here: "Sissy" jumps into the former with blistering feedback and manic, surf-y single-note guitar lines, while the late '90s-sounding "Nightcrawler" boasts a good example of the latter. These seemingly opposed tendencies show that the band have a firm grasp on melodic conventions, giving them license to bend or break them as they please.
"Nothin Nice" includes lines like "scrape me off the floor again / when you're older you'll understand," shortly followed by "you detonate in the front room / they call it discipline"; both of which seem to paint a violent domestic portrait. The song ends with repeated chants of "I'm not safe at home," a sentiment far too real for many young people.
"Particle Mace" oscillates between tough realities of feeling "invisible" while social bystanders are "playing along," and features a tender invitation for "some company." "Spare Me" has a great, snarly 'fuck you' of a chorus, again juxtaposed with clean but menacing verses describing domestic scenes.
Aye Nako are one of those great punk bands, still too rare, with both substantial lyrical content and skilful musicianship. (Don Giovanni)