In the summer of 1993, three major things happened to me, I learned to drive, saw Fugazi at Fort Reno Park and heard Five-Eight’s legendary “Weirdo” album. It played the soundtrack to that time period as my friend Kurt and I rode around town, identifying with the sad songs about freaks and outcasts. Years later I happened upon a Five-Eight show and got to see first hand the awesome power of this Athens rock band.
For a band that seemingly keeps falling off the face of the earth, generally due to lack of touring and press attention, Five-Eight delivers every time. The Good Nurse is a rather large jump from previous efforts. While still full of emotional vocals and cymbal-savvy drumming, The Good Nurse is a slower, thematic version of the band’s cannon.
The Good Nurse is very simply a concept album like the majority of Pink Floyd’s early work. Each song on this album is related to sickness, depression, hospitals and death. The haunting music sets the foundation for melancholy lyrics.
The sound of Five-Eight is also expanded on many of the songs. “Requiem” features both acoustic guitar and flueghorn to introduce the song. The pop punk is not all together abandoned. “Alexander Graham Bell” features a screeching intro, full of palm muted guitars that Mike Mantione has made famous.
If the “emo” genre was at all descriptive of a musical sound, then Five-Eight would be the trailblazers of the movement. Stop-start guitar rhythms and sad, sappy songs about midwest loneliness do not count for an emotional display, just because the singer can’t sing and the time signature changes are “cool.” The Good Nurse is both well thought out and well executed. The loneliness is not self-serving but universal and identified through the natural fears and events of death. Mantione has become a more realized artist, expanding upon his continuing themes of social deviance and depression. If sorrow can be comforting then The Good Nurse is the feel good album of the year.