Album Review: Typesetter—’Nothing Blues’

Posted: by The Editor

Typesetter, like their similarly mononymous contemporaries Restorations, fall in the liminal space between punk and alternative rock. On their sophomore record Nothing Blues, they lean into the latter while retaining their punk spirit.

Some of this can be attributed to the addition of keyboard/brass player Sarah Bogosh. The keys lend an airier feel to tracks like “Real Conversations with Imaginary Friends” and “See the Light,” and it’s cool to hear horns that don’t feel like they’re ripped out of an American Football song. “Real Conversations” features horns in the verses to great effect, and the closing “Viva” actually manages to make trumpets sound triumphant.

There are moments when the band kicks into straight-up rock territory, too. “See the Light” has a bridge that could’ve been lifted from a Nirvana song and the solos in “Regardless” and “Only” are two of the most badass moments on any punk-adjacent record of the year. The album’s most straightforward punk song is the penultimate “Marigold,” which feels like a throwback to ‘90s Green Day. It’s probably the catchiest song on Nothing Blues (a pretty big feat, honestly), and a well-needed jolt of energy between the ballad “White Noise” and the dreary first minute of “Viva.”

“White Noise” is probably the biggest misstep on Nothing Blues, a four-and-a-half minute acoustic dirge that never really picks up. It doesn’t help that it’s sandwiched between two of the best songs on the album, the earwormy “Only” and “Marigold.” The album’s other pseudo-ballad is “Technicolor,” which is proof that the band absolutely can nail slower tracks. It doesn’t hurt that Lydia Loveless is featured on the song, giving it a much different feel from the rest of the record. 

Typesetter’s punk roots shine through most in the lyrics, and nowhere more than in “Viva.” As the song collapses into itself, Marc Bannes shouts, You can all just fuck off into the air.” It’s meant as a reference to The National, but it also throws back to Violent Femmes’ classic 1983 song “Kiss Off.” In this way, Nothing Blues feels tied to two legendary rock bands. While Typesetter might never reach the commercial heights of these groups, it’s not hard to imagine them attracting the same type of reverence in the punk scene if they keep putting out albums like Nothing Blues.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Zac Djamoos | @greatwhitebison

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.