LA-based post-punk band Agender make schizo, synthy, paranoid, post-punk with a dash of dysmorphic desire and today, they announce their forthcoming sophomore album, No Nostalgia. It’s due out February 24, 2022, and today, they share the title track with a brand new video. No Nostalgia is Agender‘s sophomore album and arrives seven years after releasing their first record, Fixations. With two singles from the upcoming project, “Preach” and “Astro Tarot,” already out, the newly shared title track provides much-needed context for the album at large and what transmissions that Agender — comprised of Australian lead singer Romy Hoffman, bassist Christy Michel, drummer Christy Greenwood and synth player Sara Rivas — have in store.
“No Nostalgia” dives into the realm of the imaginary, where all life has ceased to exist. It describes a post-human environment where a being can oscillate effortlessly in oblivion without the weight and pressure of modern existence. Memory is asked to be recalled and an urge to return to childlike innocence is brought forth. To enhance this sentiment, Hoffman creates a lullaby with “No Nostalgia,” which is often used as methods to teach children. The somber tone, reflective lyrics, moody synths, eerie guitar and breathy vocals combine to make a single that shines with a retro late 70s/early 80s flare, and sonically, as Hoffman puts it, a sound that is “Malaria! Meets P.I.L and Wire.” The synth led lullaby leaves the listener yearning to be one with their former self, even if it’s just for a moment.
Describing the song, Hoffman says, “The song imagines a world devoid of memory, where nothing exists anymore- the dust of semiotics and signs are what remains. There are no memoirs because there are no people. It’s a yearning for amnesia. Human beings are usually either looking back at the past or are worrying about the future. The oscillation between these tenses is what creates anxiety. No Nostalgia is a peaceful place of no anxiety, of evaporated earth and emptiness, of erased arousal, of no desire. There is no more danger because nothing exists. The song doesn’t say what caused this, but it’s post-human Earth about to rejuvenate itself from the vestiges and damages of Human existence.”
The accompanying video, which is Hoffman’s first ever self produced music video, was shot as a short essay and collage with lyrics overlaid to create a video narration. To emphasize feelings of sentimentality, Hoffman pieced together her own Lumix DMX LX-5 footage with vintage film clips that she discovered. Her love for film coupled with her admiration for essay filmmakers Chris Marker, Derek Jarman and Dziga Vertov, inspired her to follow in their artistic footsteps and create her own music video. She flashes between scenes of human life, bodies in their natural form, cellular growth and environmental decay to have the viewer watch what it would be like to return to a state of non-existence.
Describing her artistic direction, Hoffman says, “This type of method/genre is the only thing that felt right to bring to life this song about memory and nostalgia. It made sense to make a collage of memories, rather than to form a narrative.”
David Scott Stone (LCD Soundsystem, Unwound) produced, Sean Cook (St. Vincent, Angel Olsen) mixed, and Bob Weston (Shellac) mastered the record. The three engineers combined with Hoffman’s gritty lyrics set the stage for an intricate storyline of existentialism.
Further describing the song’s reminiscent feelings Hoffman says, ”The burden of sentimentalism is singed. ‘All formlessness/Dead decayed decadence”/This amorphous amnesia = back to the primordial soup.”
No Nostalgia was written in the fall and summer of 2019, while Trump was still president and before anyone had even heard of Covid 19. Agender started the recording process in the winter of 2019 and into the spring of 2020. Of course, Covid 19 forced the band to pause their project until it was safe for studios to re-open.
Hoffman, describing the main themes of the album, says, “The album reads as a newspaper or a collage. It’s a political, spiritual, philosophical look at modern society- the information age. It’s an anthropological look at the absurd current state of affairs. It’s focused yet unhinged, self reflective, observant, brash, tongue in cheek, serious yet playful. Excavations and observations of the mind of an anxiously attached, overthinking, spiritual human.”
Hoffman always was drawn to learning about the philosophical studies of memory. The works of writers such as Baudrillard, Proust, Deleuze & Guattari and Derrida, played an influential role in the development of No Nostalgia. Other another artist who inspired the record for Hoffman was late 70s/early 80s post-punk experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer.
No Nostalgia’s “Preach” and “Astro Tarot,” have already set the competitive pace for this band’s talent. With publications such as Audiofemme, Post Punk, A&R Factory and more, all having praised their previous singles, the release of No Nostalgia is set up to be a tidal wave in the post-punk scene.
After listening to “Astro Tarot,” A&R Factory said, “The gritty vocals slice a claw into your mind — as you sit back and imagine how electrifying they are live with such a buzz about them — with a vibe that sends your mind into a spin, as you remember that this is what real music is all about.”
Lethal Amounts adds, “The debut video for “Preach” is a commanding anthem from Los Angeles band Agender. It’s an ascending explosion. The four minute single is an anthemic crescendo that mirrors the angst and frustration widely felt in these chaotic times.”
With an upcoming live show at Zebulon in Los Angeles, CA, on December 1, 2021, Agender continues to build upon their pre-existing hype. “No Nostalgia,” is but another piece of their release puzzle and lays the groundwork for a record full of true punk animosity.