PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Nu Sensae: Sundowning

Never straying from their hardcore roots, Nu Sensae has used their expansion to a trio as a chance to expand their sound, bringing in an unexpected sun-kissed influence to their Canadian screams.

Nu Sensae


Label: Suicide Squeeze
US Release Date: 2012-08-07

SPIN recently ran a feature declaring that we’re in an era of New Hardcore, which somehow sounds a lot like the old hardcore, filled with the same type of angry riffs and primal screams that you could hear Black Flag make circa 1984. All that is just fine, but what makes Sundowning, the new Nu Sensae album, really terrific is that it takes all the best parts of punk revivalism and matches them, when necessary, a totally different -- and more popular -- recent revivalism, the washed out, sunny sound that you can hear on a Dum Dum Girls record.

Of course, that’s only when lead singer/bassist Andrea Lukic feels like it. Be sure, this is a punk outfit through and through, but on a track like “100 Shades", with Lukic alternating between dreams and screams, you see a band taking the Batman Approach: The more tools on your utility belt, the better things will be. Neither vocal style stops the song’s jetpack propulsion. It’s an angrier form of the loud-quiet songs The Pixies did, with lyrics spilling out of Lukic at an uncontrollable speed. It’s telling that EMA picked Nu Sensae to open for her on her latest tour: like Erika M. Anderson, the Vancounverite trio meets any feelings of safety in their music with a threat of danger and panic that feels very real. The loud-quiet style turns a bullet train into a rollercoaster.

Brody McKnight’s guitars pound all over Sundowning, and the adding of the instrument, the expansion from duo to trio, feels like natural growth from earlier tracks “Graceland" or “Don’t Panic". But one of the eternal joys of being both the bass player and a lead singer must be that can you make the bass as loud as you want. Lukic’s instrument still shines on tracks like “Tyjna", a track, where, coincidentally, Daniel Pitout’s drums have a machine-gun rattle. The whole album is marked by a pure, intense, feel, and Lukic’s vocals don’t need to be understood to hit you in your gut.

There’s a cohesion here that rarely seen on punk albums, which often jump from peak to peak. But take a track like “Tea Swamp Park", which calls to mind a swamp ghost haunting a pack of horses who dig shoegaze, it sucks you in, and before you know it, you’re in the midst of “Whispering Rule", a rumbling cacophony of drums, guitars and, I think, hatred for the sin of gossip (“On the stoop they’re talking/you’ll burn your eyes if you look that way" are the only lyrics I feel confident in transcribing from the song). Four-and-a-half minutes later, you’re swept out with guitars mimicking bells and into “Spit Gifting", where Lukic’s come-ons to the listener (the only ones on the album) are couched in phrases like “Let’s burn my room!" and “Destroy!". Sundowning has its twists and turns, but they always utilize what the Vancouver trio does best: walls of sound meeting the vivid clarity of punk rock.

The added dimensions don’t always work: “Dust", in particular, feels weighed down by the guitars and slowed down by the softer voice. And the sonic parity in the album seems to drown any chances for a breakaway hit, although "100 Shades" and Sonic Youth-influenced ender "Eat Your Mind" come close. But even the missteps on Sundowning feel like growing pains, things to make you eagerly await their next release or live show. Nu Sensae has already figured out the trick that someone like Ye Olde Rocke God Greg Ginn knew, that the more influences you bring into punk, the better it will be. Watching them bring that into reality should be a blast.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.