Review Summary: Healing hurtsTrauma Factory
. It’s a strange album title, and simultaneously the only combination of words that sums up nothing,nowhere.’s unique position in the world of music. Sure, it’s easy to scoff at the faux self-awareness it may exude, but the musician has been exploring the realms of emo rap, twinkly indie rock and pop punk so delicately and passionately that the idea of a trauma factory appears both cynically self conscious and like a quiet acceptance of the space he inhabits. The latter idea is central to the musician’s third album: it finds him finally coming to terms with, and, to an extent, accepting the limelight he has been thrust into. Warranting as many ridiculous genre descriptions as its predecessors, it finds its primary strengths in a pure, fragile sense of humanity
As such, the delightful haze of nothing,nowhere.’s latest album has been lifted. Unlike 2018’s ruiner
, Trauma Factory
presents a newfound clarity that is entirely focused in its scatterbrained approach. Following a string of singles, the record explores as many different sounds as possible while remaining rooted in catchy melodies, bouncy beats and lyricism tackling topics of mental health from several, highly personal angles. Lead singles ‘nightmare’ and ‘death’ showcase nothing,nowhere.’s fresh confidence and willingness to test new waters: the former embraces a disco-pop punk aesthetic while the latter condenses a minute of vicious rapping into a crunchy breakdown. Neither song sounds like the other and neither represents the album accurately sound-wise: no singular track could encapsulate it in a concise three minutes. However, Trauma Factory
is impressively devoid of filler, with almost all of its fifteen numbers packing a unique, individual punch.
‘upside down’ might just be the best song nothing,nowhere. has ever penned. It thrives off its, eh, chill-emo-house aesthetic and, more importantly, shimmers of hope and certainty showing through the cracks of unadulterated anxiety. The singer proclaims that “love hurts and I need it
” and “I’m changing with the seasons / I don’t know what I’m feeling now
”. Rather than clouding experiences and sensations in elaborate imagery, more simplistic metaphors succeed at conveying what needs to be said. In a sense, the very uncertainties regarding emotions manage to provide certainty: it is clear that depression is not omnipresent anymore, even if it does rear its head more than once. Much like one’s brain coping with such issues, the faintest glimmer of light can provide a sense of hope: the realisation that perhaps
it won’t always be like this can provide a lot of strength. ‘pretend’ builds on such motifs, with its explosive chorus solidifying the notion that, whether real or imagined, slithers of positivity can go a long way: “tell me you need me / even if you don’t
”. While Trauma Factory
may consistently be ‘producing’ issues, it is not autonomous: it depends entirely on inherently human qualities such as compassion, love and sadness. Without these, mental deterioration would, paradoxically, not be able to exist.
This realisation being ingrained into the album’s fabric is clear at every turn. The contemplative ‘real’ finds nothing,nowhere. discussing the pressures of fame through an unusually intimate lens. Recounting unexpectedly meeting a fan and being lauded with compliments by them, the artist emphasises the fear of letting someone down. The added pressure of experiencing this feeling with regards to thousands of strangers rather than ‘merely’ close friends and family proves overwhelming. By guiding the anecdote through this common, deeply human issue and giving the ‘strangers’ a concrete face, it does not come off as braggadocious as much as it sounds like someone truly lost in negatively affected brain chemicals, attempting to make sense out of the world of fame. Similarly, ‘pain place’ acknowledges the damaging qualities of depression not only to oneself but also to loved ones. Trauma Factory
finds strength in such acknowledgements, as it provides the subtle nudge towards the long road of improvement that is often needed. Once the cyclical negative becomes clear to even the most clouded of minds, the possibility of an out is presented; the light at the end of the tunnel demarcating a new beginning rather than a definitive end.
Impressively, all of this is packaged into a batch of highly addictive tunes. While it is rewarding to spend time with Trauma Factory
and peel back its layers, the many catchy melodies ensure a more low-effort enjoyability fix too. nothing,nowhere.’s vocals have improved in a manner which allows for smooth transitions between sections of songs. He effortlessly manages to guide rapped verses into sung choruses and occasional screams, all guided by the typical mix of twinkly guitars and pounding beats. This combination no longer feels forced or unnatural, propelled by the palpable passion. The clarity that the artist finds in his mental state directly translates into the songs’ effectiveness, as well as the album’s relatively incoherent nature: while highly diverse, some missteps are inevitable. The spoken word intro doesn’t add all that much and ‘exile’ incorporates a few too many tropes. In spite of these issues detracting slightly from Trauma Factory
’s quality, they also add to its humanity. Three years ago, such flaws may have spiraled into something much worse: nowadays, they present opportunities. And that is something to cherish.