Music

Nothing: Guilty of Everything

While offering shockingly little beyond what was already on offer by the mid-90s, this beautifully cynical debut comes at a cost.


Nothing

Guilty of Everything

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2014-03-03
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

Not a week goes by without an album release or song premiere from a fresh-faced band described by publicists and bloggers in comparison with some inactive or recently reunited '90s alt act they most resemble. So evident is the impairment -- or, less kindly, the failure -- of modern rock music that contemporary artists flop around in the swingin’ sounds of yesteryear in the hopes of absorbing some of its spent mojo. Real or imagined, emo revivals and shoegaze surges inevitably cast bitterly cold daylight on just how much better we believe the originals did things in comparison with these millennial wannabes, stoking some arguably well-deserved resentment. A drug taken enough times to qualify as abuse leaves a pining for those first furtive fixes.

Any rage against this unsavory sort of plunderous vampirism, however, ought to be a low-grade rage, one that steadily simmers rather than impotently explodes. Indeed, the more one screams about it, the more one invites dismissive retorts of ageism, and rightly so. Still, we ought not excuse Nothing from their obvious sin simply because they've done such a damn good job of it. Lazily likenable to the ferocious squall of My Bloody Valentine and the tenderized toil of early Sunny Day Real Estate, Guilty of Everything offers shockingly little beyond what was already on offer by the mid-'90s. Yet as it so happens, the record fares remarkably better than most of those moldy oldies they’ve already been compared with, albeit for banal reasons.

That, then, is perhaps the greater blasphemy. Reissue campaigns and reunion tours touted by blogs batter us into submission, into accepting that what came before was the correct form, that all which follows will be somehow insufficient and in some way unsatisfactory. Nothing eviscerate that fallacious logic simply by releasing a full-length debut superior by design to those of the former touchpoints. Here is the point where you, conditioned listener and content consumer, will likely turn your brain off in fitful protest: Guilty of Everything is better than Souvlaki, better than The Comforts of Madness or Spooky or LP2 (The Pink Album). This isn’t to suggest that Guilty of Everything is some perfect record. Instead, it’s come time to concede in retrospect that shoegaze -- that muddled, muddy subgenre born of music media narrative -- wasn’t all that great and that, in our time of online ever-presence and ubiquity, a formula for artistic success can be crowdsourced.

Still, anyone framing Nothing as mere shoegaze nostalgia act suffers from the myopia of segmentation. How else could anyone listening to opener “Hymn for the Pillory” not pick up on the booming megalomaniacal grandeur of Mellon Collie-period Smashing Pumpkins or the manipulative faux-epics of M83? Single “Dig” regurgitates Side B of Hum’s You’d Prefer an Astronaut, while “Somersault” wallows in the same space as the Cure’s dusty glower. “Beat Around The Bush” and “Endlessly” so accurately evoke emo tropes that one might almost overlook how efficiently“Get Well” swipes from The Jesus And Mary Chain.

Is it unfair to dissect Nothing’s music in this fashion, a cruel and clinical cataloging? Not when the mimicry is so brazen and deliberate, the well-timed IPO of a full length debut. After all, labels, publicists, and artists alike regularly engage in this sort of tagging behavior on the other end. This extreme measure -- a form of civil disobedience on the part of this lumbering greying critic -- comes about because Guilty of Everything is beautiful cynicism, perfectly titled, and holistically designed to be loved within tenths of a percent by the target demo. Our lazy complicity as listeners and consumers, those who ultimately demand the references that others make, led to this terrific sounding slab of sonic nihilism. We deserve Nothing.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Music

Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Music

Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.