Clowns – Nature/Nurture

Known for causing an uproar and all sorts of trouble across the live scene, Clowns are back with their fourth album, Nature/Nurture and it’s all kinds of hectic. This album seems to blend tones of their older material with that of their more recent albums, along with sounds totally new to the band.

“Soul For Sale” turns on a more beach rock sound, reminding me something of a mix between Nirvana and modern beachy garage. It doesn’t take long for the drums to kick in though, and it’s not long until we’re back to classic Clowns hardcore punk sounds and rolling riffs. What’s nice I find that really decorates the whole album is the occasional addition of female vocals, which balances nicely with the dominating harsh punk scuzz, adding melody and edge.

“Freezing in the Sun” is pumping with adrenaline from the start and you can’t help but want to get up and jump around. Complimented also with female overtones, this track is like earlier Clowns, edged with a clear sense of development and sophistication.

I must say, Clowns is certainly on the heavier spectrum of the music I’d typically listen to, but with great variation and creativity, I was finding myself enjoying it more and more as the tracks rolled out.

Right in full skate punk swing now, “Nature” kicks off with strong drums. The word nature wouldn’t typically come to mind listening to this song but there’s just something about it that suits so well. Cluttered with screaming vocals and the rolling sounds of electric guitar, “Nature” is one of the more catchier tracks on the album, introducing more psychedelic sounds, integrating guitar isolation and fuzzy feedback.

“I Wanna Feel Again” takes a step back with a more peaceful intro and a sweetly composed guitar melody. With darker, emotional lyrics, I heard a side of Clowns that was unfamiliar to me. My sense of surprise doesn’t last long though, with the chorus speeding straight back up and we’re headbanging again.

At this point, I find the album takes a turn into more fuzzy, psychedelia – just what I like! “I Shaved My Legs For You” gives a sense of impending doom, filled with feedback and power chords. It’s nearly unsettling. This feeling for me carries right through until their last track, “May I Be Exhumed”, which is like some futuristic robot caught within an amplifier. As the track waves goodbye to its listeners, tapered sounds from other worlds embellish the rough and unruly clatters of Nature/Nurture, tying off the album with class.

It was refreshing to see classic punk rockers take on a more experimental project with this album and there’s no doubt they have certainly progressed technically and creatively. I find a lot of punk albums often struggle to create a new and fresh sound above all the screams and ruckus but I think Clowns just may have achieved this perfectly. I’d give this one a 7/10. 

(Fat Wreck Chords)

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