Nothing - Dance on the Black Top - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Nothing - Dance on the Black Top

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2018-08-24
Nothing - Dance on the Black Top
Nothing - Dance on the Black Top

Philadelphia shoegazers Nothing have had quite the meteoric rise to cult stardom. Since their inception in 2010, they’ve gone from being considered flash-in-the-pan bandwagoners, to being considered at the forefront of a shoegaze revival in the 2010s. Their placement on Relapse Records further confused, due to the label’s typical signees veered closer to more aggressive sounds like grindcore and death metal. But as their debut album Guilty of Everything showed, Nothing were not just tourists of the genre, they were committed to taking shoegaze to new heights.

The heights may be out of reach for them, but what they’ve accomplished so far has been valiant nonetheless. 2016’s Tired of Tomorrow maybe their strongest album to date, but Dance on the Black Top is a worthy follow-up. Whereas Guilty of Everything gained the band some warranted attention, Tired of Tomorrow solidified them as a band of reckoning. Black Top finds them realigning their priorities slightly, employing softer vocal stylings that lean more dream-pop due to their decipherability.

It’s a purposeful change though. Shoegaze and dream-pop acts usually have light, hardly understandable lyrics, intentionally. But in recent interviews with Domenic Palermo, Dance on the Black Top is a more positive record. And he’s right. In times of turmoil, people will look to their art forms for comfort – film, theater, music – because it’s expressive and emotive. Black Top does that, where very few shoegaze albums are able to convey without buying them underneath gobs of noise and feedback. Black Top may be one of the first shoegaze albums to make the vocals the primary instrument heard.

Palermo acknowledges the bleakness throughout, like on album opener “Zero Day,” the first single from Black Top and an excellent introduction to the album. Its serious tone carries throughout a majority of the album, though there are some light-hearted romps to be had – “You Wind Me Up” might be one of the sunniest tracks I’ve heard from Nothing, and it calls back to Weather Diaries-style Ride melodies, making for a shoegaze-lite track.

There’s ample riffage on Black Top, which receives a tremendous showcase in the middle of the record – “Plastic Migraine,” “Us/We/Are”, and “I Hate the Flowers” all feature killer riffs that throwback to 90s indie rock and shoegaze a la Silverchair, Drop Nineteens and more Ride. There’s a much heavier feel to these songs than previous albums, even if the vocals are brought more firmly to the forefront.

All of this is building up to the apex of Black Top. “The Carpenter’s Son” is quite possibly the most unique composition of Nothing’s career. It’s unlike the rest of the album and has an altogether varied structure even for most shoegaze bands that rely on various structures. After all the heaviness prior, “The Carpenter’s Son” offers an almost cinematic cooldown, in a reversal of typical build ups. There’s no damaging riff, nor scorching vocals, just a near 8 minutes of cold space. It’d be the perfect album closer, but it leads well into “(Hope) Is Just Another Word with A Hole In It,” which as a closer works, but after the emotional plateau you get from “The Carpenter’s Son,” “Hope” just feels a bit unnecessary.

Nothing continues doing what they’ve done best for the last few albums and that creates engaging shoegaze for the masses, that’s not too obscure, and offers plenty of riffs, distortion, and even emotional connection to the music. Black Top isn’t the triumph that Tired of Tomorrow was, but it’s a solid continuation of the ideas and emotions presented there.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
Nothing - Dance on the Black Top - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Wild Nothing - Indigo
  • 08/16/2018
  • By Mark Moody