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Album Review: Dance On The Blacktop by Nothing

Post-rock/shoegaze act Nothing release their third album Dance On The Blacktop on 24th August via Relapse Records. It all began for the band in 2010 with a simple demo tape in a Philadelphia apartment. The project, which started as a therapeutic outlet solely for Domenic Palermo, snowballed into a polished machine with a chance meeting with guitarist/singer Brandon Setta and the eventual addition of Kyle Kimball on drums. Sharing a musical bond, the trio weaved melancholic tales of imprisonment, broken bonds and lost youth as the centrepiece for their 2014 debut, Guilty Of Everything. The world post Guilty served as the focus for the entirety of 2016’s Tired Of Tomorrow – painting a Schopenhauerian tragedy in vivid colour and sound.

Largely speaking, this album follows the same path as its predecessors. Stories of self-loathing, self-destruction, and a general disdain for humanity and its, “insignificant” role in Palermo’s vision of the universe are met with his poised amusement and tranquil hysteria being one himself. All of this told through the eyes of a recently diagnosed Palermo suggesting he is dealing with the early stages of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a neurodegenerative disease found in people with serious head injuries. And as they packed themselves in a coffin-sized NYC apartment for 23 days to demo songs it became abundantly clear that the ripple effect left upon his psyche from dealing with these newfound symptoms would leave its mark on the material.

If you’re familiar with Nothing you’ll know they can traverse the gap between shoegaze and the harder elements of the rock scene. At the heart of the band you’ll find a shoegaze band with rock leanings, a pumped-up shoegaze for lack of a better term. As with other Nothing albums, it’s immediate and an instant favourite – expansive yet refined, gentle but with enough punch to keep you on your toes.

Each track resonates with gentle vocals encapsulating anxiety, pain, depression and confusion against a shimmer wall of expansive guitars and drawn out structures. Handily, ‘Zero Day’ is an accessible starting point, easing you into the album before the big hitting tracks like the explorative ‘Plastic Migraine’ and riff-centric ‘Us/We/Are’ with its hints of early Radiohead take their hold and engrain themselves.

Sometimes you have an album that feels like a collection of songs rather than a singular entity. That’s not the case here, it’s a perfectly formed album with each track complementing each other and moving in the same direction. The gradual haunting shoegaze of ‘Hail On Palace Pier’ complements the big riffs of ‘I Hate The Flowers’ and the epic ‘The Carpenters Son’ exudes a hauntingly dark beauty.

AD Rating 8.5/10

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