Review Summary: Beneath all the different layers of sound, Nothing’s latest record is both beautiful and hard to pin down.
The way that Nothing exploded onto the scene in 2014 – as if they had been a shoegaze fixture for ages – was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises and best storylines. The dichotomy of Palermo’s hushed vocals alongside dense, wall-forming guitars made Guilty of Everything
sound both in-your-face and far away, resulting in an experience that was enthralling almost to the point of exhaustion, yet never quite
overbearing. That illustrious debut carved out more than just a small niche for the band, as it established a vast reputation for them within the genre whilst also raising expectations sky high for any future release. Upon arrival at Tired of Tomorrow
’s doorstep, it seems that the band has, for the most part, kept their core sound intact. They still plow forth guitar-first while keeping the atmosphere awash in a distant haze, and there’s very little here that isn’t distinctly Nothing
. However, the Philadelphia natives also appear to be branching out a little, dabbling in more metallic and punk-driven tactics that make Tired of Tomorrow
feel like a record that is undoubtedly beautiful, but also a little bit lost.
Everything about the new record feels like a small step out of yesterday’s haze and into tomorrow’s reality: the vocals are slightly cleaner and more prominent, the guitars – while just as loud – are a little less gritty, and the melodies are able to peak their timid faces out from behind all the instrumental carnage with just a little more aplomb. ‘Vertigo Flowers’ is a prime example of this polishing that has occurred, featuring more accessible verses and vocals that, compared to previous endeavors, have a distinct and recognizable proximity. Across the majority of the album, the chord progressions feel slightly reserved (I’d hesitate to use the word basic
because that’s not truly the case), and the guitar work as a whole has definitely been reshaped to fit the poppier mold of this record. At times it almost feels like Nothing is trying to write pop-punk structures through a shoegaze lens…and the results vary from dynamic anthems (‘Fever Queen’) to flat out sleepy (‘Everyone Is Happy’). Fans of Guilty of Everything
’s dense, darker vibes will almost certainly find fault with some of the directional choices made on this album, but even amid protests it is difficult not to feel yourself giving in to the increased presence of warmth and color where at one point nothing but cold, black distance resided. Even the difference in the album artwork from 2014 to the present day is palpable.
While Tired of Tomorrow
feels like the spring to Guilty of Everything
’s winter, it’s really not that sunny of an album. The themes of the record center around anxiety and depression, faster to offer up lines like “I can wallow in your filth” or “I always knew I'd eventually hurt you” than anything resembling contentment. The overall tone and atmosphere of the album follows suit, alternating between full-throttle rockers (‘Fever Queen’ and ‘Vertigo Flowers’ will knock you off your feet every bit as much as ‘Hymn to the Pillory’ did) and swirling, tenacious soundscapes that see nothing lost on the shoegaze front ( ‘A.C.D.’ and ‘Our Plague’, for instance). One of the most rewarding moments of all is the second half of ‘Curse of the Sun’, which is almost Deftonian in its approach and sees Nothing run their shoegaze roots through a borderline nu-metal filter to create the album’s most experimentally complex juncture. So even if it seems like Nothing is softening their blows here, don’t be led so far as to believe that they’ve lost any of their strength, determination, or creativity.
If Tired of Tomorrow
feels like a crossroads album, it’s because it is. The band often finds itself with its feet in multiple camps, which can hinder the effectiveness of whatever direction it is that they’re trying to take at the time. It’s never a flat-out traditional shoegaze record, but it never totally departs into punk/rock/metal territory either. It almost seems as if Nothing is loosening up its grip on what it already knows, utilizing the new found flexibility to grasp at other sources of inspiration. At the end of the day, we’re left with a record that is rather hard to pin down – which is fine because we’re also left with ten pretty damn good songs. For as indecisive of an album as Tired of Tomorrow
seems to be from a conceptual standpoint, the overall musical quality and talent level never wavers. On that premise alone we have every reason to sit back, enjoy this sophomore effort for what it is, and maintain full confidence that no matter where Nothing goes, it will be worth following them.