2018 has already been a pretty big year for the Los Angeles music community. This season—or first quarter if you will—has brought long-awaited full lengths from many local favorites, including the debut by post-punk group Numb.er. This sonic venture by Jeff Fribourg—a founding member of popular psych-’gaze’ band Froth and sometime L.A. RECORD photographer—offers such a perfectly pitched blend of punk, darkwave, and goth that it feels as if it was written especially for me. Casting a stormy, melancholic shadow in its opening track—a subliminal noise collage titled “Lude (I Need It)”—Numb.er revels in a haunting kind of discomfort. Atop propulsive basslines, layers of relentlessly piercing guitar hooks and dystopic sci-fi synths, Fribourg channels a young Jeffrey Lee Pierce or Peter Murphy with his bitter vocal melodies and stark attitude. Numb.er’s looming chaos-meets-confinement ethos comes with a fine kind of grit and a creeping paranoia, distinctly influenced on the surface level by artists such as Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and Echo & the Bunnymen. But digging deeper, I find musical connections to the likes of the Stranglers, Cabaret Voltaire, and Wire, as well as contemporaries such as Holograms, Ceremony (specifically The L-Shaped Man), and Total Control. It’s no surprise that the album was mixed and mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control, a band at the nexus of this new era of murky punk rock. Transcending its time and place in the sunny Los Angeles of 2018, Goodbye is a literal farewell to musical trends that can often make a local scene feel uninspiring. It’s not my intention to sound cynical: the fearless gloominess and unfiltered personality of this record speaks for itself.
NUMB.ER’S GOODBYE IS OUT FRI., MAY 25, ON FELTE.