NoMeansNo - Wrong
Alternative Tentacles
Progressive Hardcore Punk
11 songs (50:50)
Release year: 1989
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

It’s a sad fact that, like Metal, Punk is rarely seen as skilful or intelligent, but instead the province of a set of near-hooligans living pathetically in the past. ‘Prog’ and ‘Punk’ are still seen as perpetually warring rather than overlapping; each sought to tread new ground and radicalise, and whilst stereotypically Punk is the snotty faux-anarchism of The Sex Pistols, it’s good to be reminded now and then that the likes of NoMeansNo have done their best to reveal the brains at the heart of the genre. Formed in Canada in 1979 by the Wright brothers, the band have released a string of highly-regarded albums that have been very influential on modern rock with their technical, Jazz-influenced instrumental skills and intelligent lyrics – even covering Miles DavisBitches Brew on one album.

1989’s Wrong is generally considered the band’s masterpiece, and although I can’t claim to be an expert on their discography it’s hard to argue that it isn’t, at the least, a masterpiece. Taking a post-Dead Kennedys-style quirky, Jazz-fuelled, almost Primus-esque musical direction, Wrong takes a few listens to properly take in but is incredibly catchy from the go. It’s Catching Up kicks the album off in style, lyrics about zombies putting a smile on your face even before the music launches into full gear, jangly guitars and a proggy song structure with time changes galore. The beauty of the band is that most of the time you’re too busy bopping along to notice just how much thought has gone into songs – it’s there if you look closely, however, whether you’re listening to the nervous half-gallop of The Tower or the outright near-Thrash of Brainless Wonder.

Despite this, it’s still very much a Punk album at heart, however far from the path it strays. Tired Of Waiting has a Jello-esque vocal approach that the very enjoyable Jazz breakdowns can’t hide, and Stocktaking’s blasts of guitar noise are like some twisted alternate dimension SoCal group, nightmarishly building tension with technical Rush-gone-garage-rock meanderings and powerful bellows. The End Of All Things especially has no right to be as catchy as it is, the added female vocal line setting you up wonderfully for a big breakdown and infectious mass sing-along chorus, amazingly epic and as enjoyable on the tenth time as it is the first. Wrong as an album is never less than energetic, the funky likes of Big Dick propelling themselves along flawlessly, whilst the Hardcore to the bone Two Lips Two Lungs And One Tongue would put recent Darkthrone material to shame even without the ambient pause.

This is the kind of album that turns you onto a band’s whole discography, sucking you in and showing you gleefully just what you’ve been missing. I’ve seen NoMeansNo described as the missing link between Motörhead and The Minutemen, which is a good way to sum them up, although they are without a doubt the best punk band you’ve never heard, guaranteed to change your mind about the genre. Whether you listen for the technical wizardry of Rags And Bones, the catchy stomp of Oh No! Bruno! or the emotional Sonic Youth-esque finale that is All Lies, you’re guaranteed a good time, and this ability to be both catchy and instrumentally superior to their peers is what has made NoMeansNo a name to be respected in the underground for over thirty years. The timeless Wrong is a great place to start for any Metalheads looking to cross the barricades.

Killing Songs :
It’s Catching Up, The Tower, Brainless Wonder, Tired Of Waiting, The End Of All Things, Rags And Bones, Oh No! Bruno!, All Lies
Goat quoted 90 / 100
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