Peach Fuzz is out now. The Evil Tenors play an EP release party Saturday, Sept. 15, at The Pinhook with North Elementary and Le Weekend. Tickets for the 10 p.m. show are $5.
It’s entirely possible that fans of Nathan Oliver, the currently shelved project of Durham’s Nathan White, won’t recognize “Your Love Is Instrumental” as one of his songs. The track opens Peach Fuzz, the debut EP from his new band, The Evil Tenors, and its mix of ethereal noise and jagged distortion feels entirely different from Oliver’s macabre take on slacker rock. Where his previous music paired darkness with a sense of irreverent whimsy, the Tenors opt for a more serious sense of grandeur. Far from being off-putting, these new songs are more immersively grown-up than anything White has written to this point.
“Living with Ghosts” takes old-school rock ‘n’ roll riffs and slathers them with leaden indie rock distortion, moving with limber abandon and packing a tremendous wallop. “My Love Goes Uh-Oh” stomps and stammers with abrasive guitar fuzz and potent dance-rock rhythms, envisioning what Franz Ferdinand might have become had they not started writing jock jam singles for video games. “Out of Reach” shows the influence of White’s Potluck Foundation friends, indulging in a satisfyingif rather straightforwardrendition of Schooner’s reverb-drenched melodrama.
The Tenors’ newness shows through in the lyrics. White mostly sticks to repeating lines that sound fine but mean little. For instance, the wrenching riffs of “Peach Fuzz/ You’re Not a Sharp Knife” hinge on repeated put-downs such as “You’re not a sharp knife for such a cutter,” a jab that’s only sharp enough to break the skin once. After a few spins, Peach Fuzz‘s scant lyrical rewards are mostly depleted, leaving the listener with a tonally impressive collection that nevertheless feels lacking.
Peach Fuzz finds White breaking in a new sound and a new personality, adapting to unfamiliar surroundings and figuring out how to fit in. Once he gets settled, these Tenors seem destined to excel.