Nicfit, formed in 2009, seem to have been somewhat a slow burn. An EP, a split cassette release and a 7” split have been their output over the previous 12 years. The part Japanese – part American, Nagoya based, four-piece have now come forward with debut album ‘Fuse’ and it’s worth the wait.
They set out their stall with the wirey “Unleash” and never look back. There’s a Jesus Lizard quality to KenKen’s bass groove while Charley’s spiky angular guitar cuts through the mix intensely. Kuwayama’s drums are as tight as anything, so precise and kinetic as to almost feel programmed. Hiromi’s vocals have a great swagger and intensity, akin to label mates Es’s Maria Cecilia Tedemalm, of course with a Japanese inflection.
“Human Inane” has a gnarled sleazy groove reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s “100%”. This is fitting seeing as the band apparently swiped their name from another song on the same album. The guitar has a satisfying fuzz as Charley pings and bends around the fretboard and the killer groove is relentless.
Other than this, Nicfit are certainly a fidgetty band.
They don’t generally stick with one idea for too long. The jagged hooks and needly discords of “Count” can’t sit still. It changes rhythm several times, effects are introduced and thrown away at the drop of a hat. It’s a wild ride.
The vocals have a great shoutalong quality at times. The chugging “Deviation” is complemented by chanted phrases once the forests of feedback have cleared.They introduce abstract piano chords to open ‘Rigged’ before regular frantic service is resumed.There’s a great push pull tension throughout ‘Fuse’.
The guitar often clings tight to the bass line before letting loose with moments of elasticated expressionism.
‘Flux’ sees it wander away explosively into Omar Rodriguez Lopez complexity. The ending guitar hook winds like a snake around the lolloping bassline before snapping loose.
There are more streamlined, straightforward moments of almost pop-punk in the Ikara Cult-esque “Stink” and the relatively formulaic but fun “Anxiety” either side of the title track.
Speaking of which, there’s more than a passing resemblance of the aforementioned Es. The urgency is amped up to fist pumping moshpit (I wonder when that will ever feel acceptable again) worthy levels.
Nicfit could really have existed any time in the last 40 years. If someone had played me “Boundary” and told me this was from 1985 I would not bat an eyelid.
The intense shotgun drum attack of “Ack ack ack” provides a fittingly explosive and dissonant two note ending to ‘Fuse’. It shows the band can keep it incredibly simple and still sound intense.
For an album 12 years in the making ‘Fuse’ is incredibly immediate yet spontaneous sounding. The songs are succinct, enthralling and extremely focussed.
Nicfit have crafted a great sounding punk record with so much energy it makes them an exciting live proposition too.
‘Fuse’ is out now via Upset The Rhythm.
You may enjoy this if you like: Sonic Youth, Es, Grey Hairs