Both Makeupbreakup and its sophomore record, The Italian Nightmare, are rather curious misnomers. At first glance, the band’s name makes it seem to be some sort of emo-tinged pop band, but it isn’t. The album title suggests something like a progressive rock concept record, but it isn’t. While the press materials for the album suggest it shoots for a post-punk aesthetic, it instead lands somewhere between alternative and a basic conception of shoegaze.
The band aims for the textural style of the latter genre on tracks like “What’s Your Frequency” and “Lake Niles”, but the hazy production values undercut those attempts instead of aiding them. On other tracks like album opener “Without Me”, the band’s guitar tones are more akin to mainstream alternative; at times they sound like an under-produced Coldplay. Also present, albeit minimally, are the sounds of the eighties that were present on Makeupbreakup’s debut, Scents. In particular, the bass intro to “The Rescue” sounds for a moment sounds like the band is about to cover “Footloose”, but fortunately the similarities end there. As a result of these disparate elements, the album comes off as strongly unfocused. That fact, combined with the album’s spotty production quality, makes The Italian Nightmare, while not a nightmarish listen, not necessarily a great one.