It’s often hard to toe the line between influence and reproduction. Many bands often lend themselves too much to their influences, which ultimately makes them disposable. Inversely, however, influence, when balanced evenly, can be channeled to help create something completely unique. This is the case with the Philadelphia based quartet, NOTHING, and their debut album, Guilty of Everything.
Over the course of nine tracks, Guilty of Everything offers a sonic buffet of shoegaze, fuzz pop, and indie and alternative rock peppered with dream pop and grunge, too. The result is a satisfying final product that leaves the listener fulfilled, but still wanting more, too.
NOTHING makes full use of their influences, exploring sounds pioneered by artists such as The Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine. For example, tracks like “Hymn to the Pillory” and “Somersault” harken back to the tonal exploration of the aforementioned artists while also introducing newer elements. As such, NOTHING is seemingly able to explore these aspects without ever coming to rely on them. Instead, they utilize structure, melody, and vocal accompaniment to anchor their sound in a familiar, but new(er) way.
A lot of Guilty of Everything is slow; however, the songs don’t really drag. This album is a weighted by heavy and personal themes, which actually seem to benefit from slower time signatures and progressions. Though faster tracks like “Get Well” & “Bent Nail” are quality, they are less memorable than slower tracks like “Guilty of Everything” and “Dig.”
In regards to production, NOTHING utilizes sound quite holistically. Feedback/fuzz, reverb, and pedal effects are in heavy stock; however, they aren’t usually overbearing. Instead, they actually work to enhance the instrumentation. The drums are just as raw and hard-hitting as they are light and rolling, and bass is slick and grainy, which lends a pleasant low end to each track. Additionally, guitars are airy and trebly, as well as gainy and fuzz-ridden when needed.
As instrumentation is busy creating rounded soundscapes, vocals sort of feel lost in the mix. It seems intentional that the vocals take a backseat, and this actually lends itself to the record to some degree. Vocals are allowed to float through tracks with a haunting melancholy, which works nicely throughout; however, I’m curious to hear the band’s sound with less washed out vocals and a bit more lyricism at the forefront.
Overall, the dynamics utilized with vocals and instrumentation allow for progression; however, NOTHING doesn’t really take advantage of this as much as they should. It’s not that the songs on Guilty of Everything suffer from a lack of identity; they just never really evolve too much. Instead, each song makes use of the same elements thematically and tonally, which evokes a sameness from track to track. It’s not bad per se; it’d just be nice to hear these tracks evolve and progress a bit more. Still, it’s important to remember that this is a band in its infancy. As such, NOTHING puts fourth an album worth your time. It may not be a classic per se, but it shows a capable quartet who may have one in them.
Article by Michael Ventimiglia