Dangerously Addictive Review

Neverfriend : Dangerously Addictive

A thundering bass riff announces this octane-fueled six song assault from punk/alt/metal purveyors, Neverfriend, warning you that this quartet can become Dangerously Addictive and just could be Bad For You.
Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, love, life …and survival.

Especially survival.

As a couple, Gina and Fraser Smith have forged a hammer-raw presence for Gina’s aggressive pointed lyrics obviously garnered from chaotic life-experience, not surmised fiction. There’s a definite undertone of “been there” to Gina’s poetics, an intimate communion with the frailty, imperfection and cruelty of life and human relationships which has engendered the person she is at the moment of each of these songs’ conception – a participant in life, but not a victim.

Take, for instance, in the fourth song, Faker

You told me you loved me only last night
You said you’d be with me for life

Faker, victim of a man-whore
I fell in the trap you laid
Faker, girls are worth much more
Might as well have gotten paid

…as the prey of some shallow misogynist, there is anger and bitterness because “I fell in the trap you laid” yet, there is also a strength of self which knows that “I am worth much more” and consequently, he’d better “Take a good fucking look at me” and “Better hope I don’t get my hands on you again“.

Then, there’s Bad For You. Is this about the experience of a drug or an obsessive relationship gone bad? Or a mixture of both?

Just a little at first
But you’re hooked in a minute
One hit won’t hurt
But goddamn I’m the ticket
Your love’s a lost game
There’s no need to pretend
You hate being alone

Spoken from the second-person, this could be a combination, as both a drug or a “user” in a relationship would “…take what I need” and “Give you a hell of a ride“; though the user in a relationship would be more likely to “…kiss you to pieces, And skin you alive“. When you’re hooked by either, you “Can’t stop thinking about me?” because they’re “…dangerously addictive” and “Land a hell of a blow“.

These interwoven themes seem to be inherent in the seductive Succumb as well…

I see you taking me
I see you liking it
I think you’d better close your
mind, give in, succumb to it

How d’you think I paid for this
I got the scars to show for it
Loving me ain’t always easy
Life or death you take the pick

Tell me that you’ll always be there
Tell me that you’ll never leave
Show me that you’ll stay forever
My desire will always be

Here, besides the enthralling lyrics, Gina shows that her vocal styles are not all searing knife-edged. Her voice borders on sultry, which suits the poetics well. The bass lead-in on Succumb sets a ominous cadence with a dark undercurrent of being possessed which the reserved drumming and softer vocals echo. Except for a jagged break, choppy guitar arpeggios and riffs follow suit, giving the whole a feel of sinking descent. Perhaps, love is a drug after all.

Is this album hard social commentary gleaned from personal experience? Possibly, as the raw stripped-down lyrics have a ‘lived’ feel about them; but I’m only conjecturing here. The entire album exudes this feel of experience, both in the afore-mentioned ‘lived’ feel and in the composition of the music surrounding and driving these lyrics, whether at the locomotive speed of Bad For You or Chick Is So High (“…you’ll drink and snort and hurl“) or the ballad pace of These Pills (“I need your love to bury me, I miss you, I miss you“).

Praise is due for the aggregate of Fraser’s overload power-riff guitar with the bedrock drumming of Mike Berrigan and mountaingod-throated bass of Logan Bennett (…damn, I love good bass) which anchors Gina’s sharp-edged vocals, bestowing her lyrics a further dominating, dark and heavy potency without overcoming them.

Overall, Dangerously Addictive is dark, edgy, intense and mature – perhaps too edgy and mature for much mainstream commercial airplay, yet strong in its punk/metal sound and feel. Clocking in at around twenty minutes, this second long EP (…or short album?) following their 2010 self-titled album would sit comfortably within any alternative, punk or metal advocate’s collection.

Posted on 2014/03/17

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