John Nolan
Abendigo


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 15th, 2018 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: John Nolan crafts his statement album.

For years primarily regarded as the backup singer for Taking Back Sunday, or perhaps for briefly leading the project Straylight Run, John Nolan is a man who’s had a successful but humbling musical career. He never ascended to fame the way that bandmates Adam Lazzara or Jesse Lacey did, but he has carved out a comfortable niche over the last nine years embarking upon his solo career. With each successive release we’ve witnessed growth, but Abendigo – his third full-length – is clearly the apex. Nolan’s latest piece demonstrates his pop-punk foundation but also transcends it, blending passionate emo melodies with rich ambient atmospheres and gorgeous electronic flourishes.

For fans of Taking Back Sunday and the tree of bands that it spawned, Abendigo might feel like an eclectic combination of influences. The intensity of a track like ‘Do You Remember’ recalls Daisy, with fierce grunge-inspired riffs and shouted vocals that pour out of the music like smoke billowing from an explosion. The way that same song transforms itself through a lengthy piano passage and synth wash is a nod to Straylight Run. ‘Anything You Want’ feels like a lost track from Tell All Your Friends, and when Nolan screams “Say it for yourself, this is what you wanted / It's all over now baby, no surprises”, it’s hard not to allow memories of ‘There’s No ‘I’ In Team’ to creep up. The catchy pop-punk inclination of ‘Half a Block to Go’ feels like any number of moments from Taking Back Sunday’s latter and more refined discography. So to call Abendigo a cohesive album wouldn’t necessarily be accurate; sure, it’s held together by a lot of similar dynamics with roots all traceable to Nolan’s past, but if anything the eight songs here merely exemplify just how diverse his career has actually been.

Nolan’s greatest strides come in the songwriting department. Sad, Strange, Beautiful Dream and Height were Nolan albums by name, but they still sounded a little bit like he was just continuing TBS on his own. As minor tweaks and improvements came, especially on Dream, they still weren’t quite enough to jettison him outside of the long shadows of his past. That’s where Abendigo shatters expectations. The songwriting here is not choppy or by-the-numbers like you might expect. Instead there is a free-flowing aura, benefitting from organic and seamless transitions between emo, pop-punk, electronic/ambience, and even shimmering indie-rock. The most accurate comparison might be to say that this is John Nolan’s Science Fiction – an album that likewise tied together Brand New’s past influences while presenting them in a new light and with sleeker, more full-sounding production. Abendigo is recognizably Nolan, but it’s also so lush and beautiful at times that it qualifies as an evolution in his sound.

Abendigo is a statement album. It feels like Nolan has finally come into his own, embracing a unique style that is simultaneously accompanied by vast creative and technical improvements. This is an immense step forward both personally and professionally, and one that should finally see him earn recognition for what he’s accomplished in his own musical career. John Nolan is no longer living in the shadows, and Abendigo is a much needed burst of color that will undoubtedly pave the way for his future.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
November 14th 2018


28771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just a quick write up. I wanted to get something out there people could read because this has flown quietly under the radar.

Digging: Exit North - Book of Romance and Dust

neekafat
November 14th 2018


13405 Comments


What a gorgeous album cover

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2018


40873 Comments


Ok but where the hell my Tidal Wave followup

Digging: Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 15th 2018


28771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's weirdly my favorite TBS album ever and I can't wait to see what they do next.

Divaman
November 15th 2018


3167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks for this. I had no idea that Nolan was putting out an album this year. I will definitely give it a listen.

Digging: Dead Can Dance - Dionysus

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 15th 2018


28771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That was my main reason for writing this. I didn't know it was coming out either until a few days after its release.

The first two tracks are definitely the strongest but the whole thing is pretty nice. I think TBS/BN/Straylight fans will eat this up, not sure about everyone else.

Feather
November 15th 2018


4992 Comments


I remember his last album being enjoyable for a few days or so. Excited to take a listen to this. I'm a huge TBS/BN/Straylight fan so I think I should hit the target market quite well (Not to mention the Sowing endorsement).

Feather
November 15th 2018


4992 Comments


This was good the couple times a played through it but nothing really jumped at me. I will spin again tomorrow probably

FreddieDelaney31
November 16th 2018


4916 Comments


I absolutely cannot stand the first song, and I'm a huuuuge John fanboy. Gonna try to listen to the rest soon, cheers on a great writeup

Digging: ITEM - Sad Light

Eons
November 16th 2018


1986 Comments


This sounds like it'd be good for my study/programming playlist. Which consists of old stuff I listened to in college: Thursday, Death Cab For Cutie, Brand New etc. I have no idea why this type of music works so well for programming and studying but it really does, surprisingly.

Cormano
November 16th 2018


1328 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet, so glad you reviewed this Sowing, haven't gotten around to listen to it yet but will spin tomorrow

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 16th 2018


28771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Feather: Yeah I don't think it's a "grab you" kind of album but hopefully it grows.

@Freddie: kinda surprised considering that's one of the best on here!

@Eons: It absolutely does. I used to jam all those bands you mentioned in school to cram for exams and they always somehow enhanced my ability to remember the material without distracting me while absorbing it.

@Cormano: lmk what you think, it's probably Nolan's most BN-sounding material in a long time so take that as a good thing or a bad thing



Also just in general, I want to say that guitar lick at the end of Over Before It Begins is blissful.

ProjectFreak
November 16th 2018


3201 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oooh I am thoroughly intrigued, even though I was never big on TBS. Will spin for sure

Feather
November 16th 2018


4992 Comments


"This sounds like it'd be good for my study/programming playlist. Which consists of old stuff I listened to in college: Thursday, Death Cab For Cutie, Brand New etc. I have no idea why this type of music works so well for programming and studying but it really does, surprisingly. "

@Eons I literally have the same playlist ... by it had a bunch of radiohead too. Seemed super study inducing for some reason at the time.

Lucman
November 16th 2018


1484 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm digging this quite a bit. Nice rev, Sowing!

Digging: Rivers and Robots - Discovery

nolerthebowler
November 17th 2018


2790 Comments


Nolan team unite!

Veldin
November 19th 2018


3700 Comments


How in the **** did I remember who John Nolan was? Right on though, I'll check it out. Good review, Sowing

Cormano
November 19th 2018


1328 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

finally got around to checking this out, honestly it blew all my expectations, your review is pretty much spot on, this feels like a culmination of everything he's been a part of yet he expands on that, I can feel a lot of Brand New and Radiohead influences, people who miss Straylight Run need to listen to this

ItsTheSquirrel
November 20th 2018


134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wait, Brand New spawned from Taking Back Sunday? My life is a lie

Digging: Crippled Black Phoenix - Great Escape

Feather
November 20th 2018


4992 Comments


This sounds like Straylight Run to me honestly



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