Review: NÜDE Crafts a Melancholic Daydream on Debut Single “Exquisite”

Luke Clohisy and Ruby Lucinda have been making music together in various permutations since high school, and it shows. Their new two-piece band NÜDE feels like a culmination of their decade-long collaboration; delivering a debut single, “Exquisite,” that is sharp, refined, and focused. Due to Clohisy and Lucinda’s artistic familiarity with one another, their debut single possesses a strongly and intentionally formed identity. NÜDE’s tying together of adjacent influences across the alternative rock/pop spectrum into a tight, catchy package provides for a satisfying and easily repeatable listen. Highlighting the catchiness and pop-sensibility of “Exquisite,” however, is not to imply a lack of depth. The track is multifaceted, with tightly composed sections that freely flow into one another.

“Exquisite” opens with a cinematic drone that will make Daniel Lopatin fans drool in delight before breaking into a lonesome country-twanged riff, accompanied by cavernous, crashing drums. Bells, vocal harmonies, and distorted rhythm guitar ring out in the background, creating a melancholic dream-pop/shoegaze landscape for the band’s contemplative lyrics. Drummer Ruby Lucinda’s ability to fill space, especially on a track so thickly layered, is essential to the song’s success. She plays with palpable feeling, bringing a percussive heart and soul to the track with emotive impact; providing a bedrock of linear drumming that firmly anchors the noise and communicates a distant, cloudy despair.

It is important to clarify that Ruby’s contributions extend far beyond the drum kit. NÜDE is credited as an equal collaborative effort, with Lucinda and Clohisy both contributing to the composition of each aspect of the track. Though Clohisy is the one recorded playing guitar and singing the lead vocal, and Lucinda is the one recorded playing drums, synths and providing background vocals, each is equally responsible for the construction of the part the other is playing.

Clohisy’s voice is nasal but not whiny, emotional but firmly on-pitch. He successfully harkens back to the vocal melodics of 90’s grunge that many have tried (and failed) to recreate. Clohisy makes the sound his own, side-stepping the typical Nirvana or Pearl Jam worship, sliding comfortably into a more tasteful range reminiscent of some of the lesser imitated vocalists of the 90’s era such as Local H’s Scott Lucas. The lyrics of the song are primarily concerned with the self. What is it? What is it constituted of? How do others affect it and how does it affect others? One could interpret through these lyrics that the self is partially constituted of the family, as we shoulder the burden of our parents’ generational trauma while trying to define ourselves outside of it (“I am more than remains of your flesh,” “All I can be is what you gave to me”). One could also interpret the self as an amalgamation of all the other selves we come in contact with and are influenced by, a culmination of life lived (“I am the other that hatches you and the present that creates you/My body dying like yours”). In the end, the ambiguity and brevity of the lyrics leaves the listener to create their own interpretations of the band’s existential angst.

After the main vocal passage, NÜDE unleashes a heavily fuzzed-out, wailing guitar solo, lifting influence directly from both the J Mascis playbook and the 2010s garage rock canon of bands like Ovlov and first album FIDLAR. This crescendo bleeds theatricality and melodrama, bringing the track to riveting climax before fading into a quiet, calming conclusion.

The acoustic guitar outro gives the listener space to breathe as it quietly brings them down from the noise-soaked high of the previous three minutes. The hopeful serenity of this final passage evokes the liminal yet universal feeling of waking up. The translucent blurriness of eyes first focusing, the sensation of limbs regaining feeling as you subconsciously realize you are still alive. It must have all been a dream after all.

Head over to NÜDE's Bandcamp to support the band's new single especially this Friday for Bandcamp Friday!

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Aviv Hart