Listening to Aye Nako’s new record Silver Haze is that feeling you get when you’re so full of energy and anxiousness that you stop everything (work, biting your nails, walking) and sit down. Silver Haze goes like this: there are twelve tracks and they all blend together acutely, in a way that talks poignantly and honestly about experiences of race trauma, queerness and transness.
The record is Aye Nako at their most innovative and experimental. Each track pushes their pop punk sound to new limits: we hear some sampling of a clip from Mars Dixon’s childhood on the opener “We’re Different Now,” layered with synth work and drumwork. The track feels like the opening credits from a horror-fueled children’s tv show. It feels hot and sticky and sets the mood for the rest of the album. It is as if the title of the track states out explicitly what is going on with this album and with this band. Things are different, both sonically and emotionally. There is something specific tied to the narratives of trans status and queerness: constant change. There’s this need and want for comfort but often times that comfort can be hard to achieve.
In the album’s third track, “Half Dome,” we hear Mars Dixon and Jade Payne riff off of each other: pulling off gorgeous and loud pop punk guitar hooks. It’s anathematic and gritty, moving so fast and so expertly you don’t have time to think or catch a breath. Later, towards the end of the album in “Arrow Island,” we are moved into a deeply personal track that describes a place where you are taken in and told you matter. “Arrow Island,” is utopic: it’s a place where you finally have the strength to cut the people out of your life that are hurting you and where you don’t have to constantly listen on loop to the negative shit people are constantly bombarding you with.
This is a record that is about healing, music for Dixon and Payne is catharsis. For every bright, catchy and quick movement down the fretboard there is release. Silver Haze is an act of visibility, a record where sonics and message go hand and hand.
Silver Haze is out now on Don Giovanni.