splendid > reviews > 11/29/2002
No Knife
No Knife
Riot for Romance!
Better Looking

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Riot for Romance!"

Buy me now
Remember No Knife? You know, the quirky, angular sounding band that made their name by opening for Sunny Day Real Estate a few years ago? If you do, great -- you've probably been eagerly awaiting Riot For Romance! since the day it was announced. If you don't, then hearing these songs will quickly jog your memory, as No Knife truly possesses a unique voice.

Truth be told, far too many people have no clue who No Knife is, which means they're in for even more of a treat when they hear this, the band's most fully-realized work to date. Aside from possibly being No Knife's defining moment, Riot For Romance is one of the most vibrant, soulful rock albums of the year.

In the past, No Knife was somewhat hesitantly filed under post-hardcore, but with these ten songs they've finally exposed the absurdity of that tag. If No Knife sounds like anyone, it would be Gang of Four or Mission of Burma -- not any of the lifeless bands plaguing the scene today -- and even those comparisons are shaky. In short, the music speaks for itself.

The title track opens the disc, bursting through the door with rip-your-ears-off guitars and a booty-shakin' groove. Mitch Wilson's trademark vocals ring clear and full, and the refrain of "Fuck your slow death scene, we want a riot for romance!" serves as the album's thesis. There is no waffling or half-assing it here, just full on passionate rock. As each song leads to the next, the band's songwriting prowess becomes apparent. Each hook is catchier than the one before it, each riff more inventive, each guitar line more melodic and atmospheric. The band even keep their composure on the seven minute "Feathers and Furs", which is so logically constructed that it cannot be faulted for its length. As on past albums, the guitar/bass interplay is fantastic, and will often make you wonder which instrument is the true backbone of the songs.

The only times No Knife's attack loses steam are "May I Call You Doll?", an out of place instrumental, and the slightly dragging closer "This Moonlife"; both dilute the band's equation, removing vocals or energy with less than satisfying results. Fans may also recognize three of these songs as B-sides from previous releases, and while this may disappoint at first, the tunes are stronger and more textured here, particularly "Permanent For Now".

Even at their weakest, No Knife's creativity and pop sensibility easily surpasses the abilities of their peers. Riot For Romance is a welcome re-emergence that exceeds all expectations.



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