Having recently checked out their latest single, Dark Horse, and been definitely taken by it, it was a really welcomed treat to be sent over by the band itself the release the song came from. Its creators are UK outfit Who Killed Nancy Johnson?, a Reading-based quartet creating an eventful fusion of punk and rock with post punk imagination. It is a tenacious sound fuelling a new EP in the shape of Flat Earth Theory, four tracks of raw and devilish rock ‘n’ roll which just got under our skin.
Formed in 2015, Who Killed Nancy Johnson? has grown into one increasingly praised and devoured live presence across the south of England. Their debut EP, Cops and Robbers, released early last year only added to their rising reputation, one sure to be energised again by Flat Earth Theory. Musically the band embraces inspirations from the likes of The Stooges, The Ruts, Wire, Magazine, Black Flag, Buzzcocks, The Rezillos, Fugazi, Ash, Killing Joke, Lit, Rival Schools, The Drills, and 3 Colours Red; an array of flavours which if not openly echoed in the band’s individual enterprise certainly adds to its substance.
Flat Earth Theory is an eventful encounter, an affair coincidently echoed in its making with former bassist Paul Anthony leaving the band just before the EP’s mixing stage and preventing the basslines already laid down being used. A mystery bassist saved the day though, Who Killed Nancy Johnson? leaving the studio with four slices of ear grabbing rock ‘n’ roll.
The EP opens with Strip, a song which opens the band’s live show and to rousing success one imagines such its potent impact on Flat Earth Theory. From a dulled clang of guitar, spirit sparking beats launch their bait, Mark Wren whipping up song and appetite alike as Pete Moulton’s guitar continues to linger casting raw strokes. Quickly though the song surges through ears, its rapacious energy and disruptive intent manna to the imagination and capped by the distinctive tones of vocalist Stefan Ball. Old school punk meets post punk devilry, kind of like The Adicts in league with a Fugazi fuelled Gang Of Four, the track is irresistible and for us a must single. It is easy to see why their shows get off to a flyer with the song, its two minutes instinctive punk ‘n’ roll incitement.
The following Alien has a broader rock landscape, alternative and punk merging for a tenacious stroll which teases and lures the listener to one irresistible call of a chorus demanding eager participation. As in the first song, the band casts wicked hooks and anthemic persuasions which manipulate by the second, a great throbbing bassline accentuating their dexterity as the track matches its predecessor in hitting the spot dead centre.
Mouth and Trousers is next up, a more controlled song which almost prowls ears initially even as a rush of riffs crowd them. It calms down further as vocals join the shuffle, rhythms keeping their restraint in place too. There is a whiff of pub rock to the song, a Dr Feelgood breath to its punk ‘n’ roll which brings another potent shade to the EP’s sound and though the track did not ignite the passions as richly as its companions, it had the body bouncing and vocal chords indulging especially through another potent chorus.
The EP is completed by that latest single, Dark Horse. The song is a muscular affair of alternative rock which straight away springs a lure of firm beats and juicy hooks, building on their prowess with appetising grooves and a brooding bassline aligned to almost predacious beats. Recalling bands such as The Motors and Mind Museum, the track dances in the imagination whilst arousing the spirit.
With new recruit Julien Bruinaud completing their line-up on bass, Who Killed Nancy Johnson? are ready to build on their previous success with a real nudge on national attention, the thoroughly enjoyable Flat Earth Theory irrepressibly leading the persuasion so watch this space.
Flat Earth Theory is out now @ https://wknancyj.bandcamp.com/releases
Pete RingMaster 20/02/2018
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