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On 'Master Cat,' Hard Nips explore the rough edges of punky power pop

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It’s been four years since the Brooklyn-based garage rock quartet Hard Nips released its brilliant EP “Bunny.” The wait is over with the June 4 release of its third full-length album, “Master Cat,” via the Rochester indie record label Dadstache Records. With three of the four members having moved to New York from Japan, Hard Nips came together in the late-aughts, and has since refined its sound to include an increasing number of sugary guitar hooks and itchy dance beats. “Master Cat” feels like a timeless confirmation of pop’s all-encompassing power.

Hard Nips’s latest release ventures through hooky yet hard-edged power pop that’s infectious and at times frantic — think Blondie, Shonen Knife, and the B-52’s, but through a garage pop lens.

The album starts with “Blender X,” an unapologetic and tender-hearted opener that carries a tone heading into the territory of ’60s girl groups and Blondie’s “X Offender” with its kiss-off quality. The off-kilter pop style of the title track is spacey and funky, while “Workaholic” is a raw and hypnotic shuffle. “Alternative Dreamland” begins with a jagged guitar hook that’s eventually smeared over the haunting, bass-driven pulse, with the lyrics echoing a sense of empowerment.

The standout track, “Analog Guys,” is all about wired intensity and pop concision, with a tongue-in-cheek spirit that’s powered by a “motorik” rhythmic drive. The mid-tempo closer “Cupid Devil” is darkly-styled, but sloshes together all the pure-pop melodies Hard Nips have drifted into throughout their musical career.

Hard Nips’s comeback effort cruises through power pop’s elements of sweetness and simplicity, complete with the band’s sloppy and raw aesthetic, sharp hooks and swooning gang vocals.

Joe Massaro is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.