Nothing – ‘Tired Of Tomorrow’ Review

Posted: by Riley

“You can finally hear the vocals” they’ll say. Don’t listen. Nothing has always been a sick band. The Philadelphia 4-piece’s debut LP was a monstrous shoegazer record – and despite its imperfections, it’s perhaps the only ‘shoegaze revival’ offering worth its weight in think-pieces. For a record so completely enveloped in distortion to work, it needed a driver; that driver was the gripping narrative of lead whisperer Dominic “Nicky” Palermo. As if a Relapse Records (Mastodon, Pig Destroyer) signing wasn’t compelling enough, Palermo’s aggravated assault charge, 2 years in prison, and an album called Guilty of Everything sure was. 

The follow-up, called Tired of Tomorrow, was recorded by Will Yip at Philly’s own Studio 4, and marks a significant expansion of sound and mission for the still-rising group. The album’s airy first song, “Fever Queen,” lies closest to Guilty of Everything’s tactile arsenal; it’s an eyes-to-the-sky escalate-then-explode dream rock song, on-par with the strongest album openers in recent memory, and a fitting signifier of the transition the band’s made in the past two years. The most remarkable progression for Nothing, however, lies in their potent, detail-oriented approach to songwriting – a trait that is most evident on fiery album highlight “The Dead Are Dumb.” Sonically, the textures and spirit of early 90’s melodic rock are alive within Tired of Tomorrow – a project that is as much Smashing Pumpkins as it is Slowdive (save for “Nineteen Ninety Heaven,” which would even be too samey for a Souvlaki tribute LP). Songs like lead single “Vertigo Flowers” and “Curse of the Sun” showcase the dynamic grunge-gaze focus foreshadowed on last year’s split with Whirr. Spearheaded by a driving rhythm section and brooding verses, Nicky abandons his washed out falsetto for a gravelly snarl. The towering, wet-paintbrush strokes of atmospheric guitar are not lost on Tired of Tomorrow; in fact, they interact gracefully with the grimy elements of Nothing’s songs, weaving in and out, offering relief and moments of grand catharsis for the band and their listeners. 

And that is what makes Tired Of Tomorrow that much more compelling. The band’s grasp on utilizing simple chord structures and vocal swells help outline the natural fight for space and melody. “ACD (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder)” exemplifies the band’s affinity for beautifully simple songs, albeit it while still clutching onto a fiery melody and atom-bomb chorus. The guitars are almost overly aggressive, choking the airy vocals out of Palermo. As the final refrain approaches and the rhythm section grows chunkier, the bellowing distortion and a lead guitar feel claustrophobic — like a packed elevator space — but a sense of calm still washes over the excellent track. Palermo’s strange, over-confident charm pairs nicely with his self-awareness and keeps us wanting more; it’s a show-stealing 90’s bad guy role every bit as convincing as it is interesting. While Nothing can be brooding, Nothing can also be beaming with hope. “Our Plague” begins with a firm, pounding beat, and pushes through the song’s gentle guitars with poise. Halfway through the song, Nothing ditches their disguise and let the guitars buzz rather than glimmer, sulking in delicate feedback and effects. But the drums just keep rolling on, it’s dazzling and mesmerizing; it’s Nothing.

As I mentioned before, you can hear the vocals on this one. The reason I’m rolling my eyes at that revelation is not because it isn’t true – it is; it’s just that it’s merely a symptom of Nothing’s brilliant reimagination of their sound. Nicky’s vocals step out of the murk because his lyrics now inform the feeling of the songs as much as the feelings inform the lyrics; this is a substantial improvement on the feeling-driven walls of sound that characterized Guilty of Everything. Whereas previous records captured the sound, the vocals never felt as much as a utilized instrument until now. The emotional palette of TOT zones in on are vivid contradictions between the doleful real-life experiences Palermo draws from and the bright hues he forges from them — and sometimes vice versa. Following the release of their debut, Nothing offered an explanation on the volume and intensity of their music; their commitment to a louder-than-life break-the-PA-system sound comes from a need to accurately translate the struggle of life that consumes them. On Tired of Tomorrow, the quiet parts speak just as loudly.


FFO: Smashing Pumpkins, Slowdive, Title Fight

Best Tracks: “The Dead Are Dumb,” “A.C.D.,” “Curse of the Sun.” 

Review collaborated by Riley and Sean