The artwork on No Doctors’ new EP has a dizzying effect.
The front and back of the compact disc are colorful collages with splotches of paint. The inside booklet contains small black and white photos of the band stacked up against one another. Underneath the compact disc are intricate black-and-white drawings, like the cover of a textbook after a year of doodling.
Despite the contrast between the collages and the drawings, the artwork on the compact disc is extremely busy and confusing. But a couple of images do manage to stand out and distinguish themselves from the mess, and once your eye adjusts, smaller and hidden objects appear.
The artwork is like preparation for listening to No Doctors. They can be fast, loud and heavy. Plenty of bands fit this description, but it’s No Doctors’ layers of noise with instruments all seeming to have a mind of their own that make it especially hard to take everything in all at once.
The opening track, “Bigg East,” storms in with rattling guitars and a drum beat that sounds like stomping boots. When the squealing saxophone is added to the mix, the song swirls into a tornado.
Just as No Doctors seem close to spinning off the face of the Earth, “Floating Woman” calms everything down with bluesy power-ballad, emphasis on power.
“Floating Woman” sounds unlike anything the band has recorded previously. The music has a sharp tone, giving the guitars a glistening sound. Previously, No Doctors surrounded their recordings in fuzz and distortion. The change is like the difference between Sonic Youth’s “EVOL” and “Murray Street.”
Along with the cleaned up sound, No Doctors now gives their songs more breathing room. Their last album found the group rapidly tumbling through their songs, as though it had to chase them down, or it would ramble a softer acoustic song. While both worked, they never exactly merged together.
Now, however, No Doctors move effortlessly between tempos and clutter. The last track on the EP, “Future Awaken Awiden,” is a gripping 10-minute jam that builds into a slow explosion of blues, noise, punk and free jazz. This is No Doctors at their best.
Artist: No Doctors
Label: No Sides Records