Negative Scanner Credit: Vita Photo

Three years can be an eternity in the course of a young, razor-sharp punk band, but on their bristling new album Nose Picker (Trouble in Mind) Chicago’s Negative Scanner sound almost as if they’ve been on ice since the release of their blistering self-titled 2015 debut. I mean that as a compliment; the sense of fed-up fury in the vocals of the intensely charismatic lead singer Rebecca Valeriano-Flores sounds undiminished in their intensity and indignation. Though that would certainly makes sense given the current state of the world, her songs focus more on personal disappointment than on politics. The album opens with Valeriano-Flores demanding “Is there anybody there?” in a piercing postpunk snarl before the band rips into the jackhammer stutter of “T.V.,” in which the singer dispatches a “Doc Marten PhD” for being lost in his own head. On the title track she excoriates a fickle soul who’s “picking sides like you pick your nose.” Though she can channel the bite of Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker, when she digs down and drops her pitch on “Shoplifter” she does an awfully good job at evoking the drone of Johnny Rotten on Sex Pistols classic “Problems.” There’s nothing on Nose Picker that the band hasn’t done plenty of times before, but slashing, wiry guitars, spastic yet locked-in rhythms, and laser-edged concision can sound fresh in the right hands, and drummer Tom Cassling, bassist Nick Beaudoin, and guitarists Valeriano-Flores and Matt Revers keep it all inspired.   v