Washington DC quartet, Priests have finally released their debut full length, Nothing Feels Natural on their very own Sister Polygon Records. The last time we saw these four together on record with the EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power released in 2014 via Don Giovanni Records. Fast forward to 2017, we finally get a proper debut after the band went through some tough times to get this record out by having to re-record their previous efforts.
Nothing Feels Natural is an interesting listen as it is made up of angry, yet melodic growls you would expect from singer Katie Alice Greer attached with clean, and sweet harmonies. This effort is pretty and at the same time enraged. Speaking of which, the intro track, ‘Appropriate,’ is a jolt to the system with tribal vocals and drums that feel like a call to action. This forward and abrasive track breaks into a cool down period with stretched out guitars and sprinkled sax licks. The shining moment of this cut is the ending that cultivates into a free-form, punk rock, jazz explosion.
The album’s first single, ‘JJ’ has wonderful upbeat piano licks that properly beds Greer’s vocals which leads into ‘Nicki,’ a pleasant tune with gorgeous hazy background vocals. Watch out for the noisy guitars that screech violently only when necessary. This song is one of the most unpredictable tracks on the album but it kind of lacks the personality and the energy of the previous two tracks. The following track ‘Lelia 20’ sounds like a continuation of ‘Nicki,’ but with more charisma. This track serves as a progression in the bands sound with its slender guitar intro with a beautiful, sliding riff that surfs gracefully in the background. Towards the end of this track, there are some lovely vocal harmonies that make this one of the gold standards of this project.
‘No Big Bang’ is another compelling track that features a spoken-word guest spot from drummer Daniele Daniele. The storytelling manner of this song is alluring with it’s awesome refrain, “No words, no big bang.” I commend the stellar vocal interplay between Greer’s pleasant singing and Daniele’s speech. The enticing instrumentation to this track serves as galactic ear candy. The ‘Interlude’ is another perfect example; with serenading strings that provide a nice break from the gentle aggressiveness from the rest of the album. It is a tad unnatural and outside the realm of this album; so I guess nothing does feel natural.
The title track has the most polished vocals on the album and guitars that dance heavenly. Where there is beauty, there is chaos because there are guitars that come crashing in; feeding back towards the end. ‘Pink White House’ is one of the stimulating songs on Nothing Feels Natural. It’s like an internal horror movie and as Greer says, “…pop culture repackages your identity and sells it back to you for entertainment.” If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. Greer drops some serious knowledge with the line, “Kneel at the feet of programming, I’m really not concerned with what you think….” Lets not forget the hypnotizing and wonderfully repetitious, “Consider the options of a binary.” This is easily the most quotable song of the album.
The concluding tracks on this album are very dance-able and lively. Especially ‘Suck,’ with it’s thrilling cowbell hits and electrifying congas. Towards the end, a lively saxophone adds a lot of character to this album. However, I feel as if this track brings Nothing Feels Natural to a rather abrupt ending. The enticing introduction to this album got me excited for a conclusion that was equally frenzied. Other than that, not bad for a band who runs a label out of their apartments. I’m already looking forward to the next album.