The Good Life’s Tim Kasher thinks Novena on a Nocturn is better than it is. He seems to think poetry and starlit songs are enough to make this interesting. It is distracting in a way, but there’s too much missing from Novena on a Nocturn for it to be worth hearing. Its despondent meandering alongside sluggish music seems intended to create perfect late-night listening, but instead, it elicits little emotion. It exists without doing anything productive.
If The Good Life has a strength, it is, strangely enough, the lyrics. Combining striking images with unusual phrasing, they are the most intriguing part of Novena on a Nocturn, even though they too often come across sounding like bad teen angst poetry. “Did you cry when Winter’s hands stole you from that fertile grave?” Kasher asks on “Your Birthday Present” while on “What We Fall for When We’re Already Down” he sings “It’s like stabbing an icicle straight through your chest”. The superficial preoccupation with death, violence and love is annoying, but it at least provides something to hang onto while listening to Novena on a Nocturn.
The music is almost nonexistent. It says nothing and does nothing. Uninspired arrangements of keyboards, guitars and drums bring about no response from the listener. If it were boring or bad, it would at least evoke a reaction. Instead, it’s something that is entirely ignored.
The Good Life isn’t completely terrible, though. They have some slightly diverting songs, such as the pretentiously melancholy “Waiting on Wild Horses”. In general, though, the songs are thankfully forgettable, which is not aided by the choice of long, hard-to-remember song titles. Novena on a Nocturn is easy to overlook, even when you are listening to it.
It’s hard to say if The Good Life had their intentions in the right places while making Novena on a Nocturn and while it’s far from being a work worthy of despising, it’s too dull to feel much of anything for. Its existence serves no purpose, other than maybe momentary distraction.