No Suits in Miami
Photo: Courtesy of the artist via Bandcamp

No Suits in Miami Go .38 Special Scandinavian Style

By pumping things up with a classic 1980s arena aesthetic, No Suits in Miami’s Nothing Ever Happens radiates enough summery intensity for tape-deck cruisers to savor.

Nothing Ever Happens
No Suits in Miami
Shelflife Records
25 March 2022

A good friend with impeccable indie taste once claimed that where song structure is concerned, every catchy AOR or corporate-rock song released since 1983 is nothing more than repackaged .38 Special. Wise words, yet hardly a criticism. This adage inevitably came to mind while getting to know No Suits in Miami’s pleasing second album, Nothing Ever Happens: Since today’s musicians weren’t alive way back then, such mimicry must either be instinctive or handed down via succeeding generations of songwriters. Combine that seductive 1980s arena aesthetic with Lush’s feminine vocals and shoegaze-y guitars, and the result is a vast improvement for a band already showing plenty of potential.

Perhaps something in the water – or else a regional 1980s fetish – might explain the intriguing English-language indie rock emanating from Scandinavia over the past 15 years. At a minimum, this streak dates back to the Mary Onettes‘ self-titled debut in 2007, a deceptively tuneful Echo and the Bunnymen salute that proved to be one of the year’s better releases. Given this head start – and with a band slogan like “Welcome to the Jangle” – No Suits in Miami would seem perfectly situated to heed this regional community imperative and with dreamy feminine vocals thrown in for good measure.

Except this record throws off considerably more energy than that, especially compared to their placid full-length debut, I Hope That No One Sees Me – which, while eminently listenable, frankly overdid the delicate stuff. Sure, there’s some warm, slower-paced fare on Nothing Ever Happens, such as “Stay Here” and “Beach”, with ringing guitar rhythms and layered Sundays-style choruses. But once you start listening for .38 Special’s (likely unconscious) influence on this latest release, you can’t un-hear it. Which, for a certain graying demographic, is usually a good thing – and the album is at its strongest when doing so.

The introductory “What’s It All About” opens with a driving wall of guitar, then swerves into a winding first couplet (.38’s “Back to Paradise”). “The Robins Sang’s” high-pitched, open-ended riff rocks much harder than initially expected, bringing to mind .38’s “Like No Other Night”. Now, this next correlation may be a stretch, so please indulge a poor writer’s juxtaposition, but “Couldn’t Say” reminded me of “Fantasy Girl’s” indelible rolling chorus if it were somehow extended for two-and-a-half minutes.

Fortunately, as hinted above, No Suits’ baseline influences aren’t limited to the Stone Age of the early-80s. The jouncy vocals and ringing acoustic guitars dominating “Over and Over” and “Make You See” place them firmly in 1990 shoegaze territory, back when Lush’s early EPs were rewriting the rules of dream-pop. Better yet, the tasteful and purring “Buffy” – one of the record’s freshest tunes – eludes easy comparison, perhaps best resembling a more obscure one-hit shoegaze band like Chapterhouse. Finally, like all good concluding tracks, the appropriately moody “Sunday” brings events to a close with a more luminous and sophisticated edge.

No Suits in Miami’s debut I Hope That No One Sees Me was well-suited for reading or writing, but you wouldn’t want to drive to it. Now, however, by pumping things up with a dab of that classic 1980s arena attitude, Nothing Ever Happens radiates enough summery intensity for us tape-deck cruisers of a certain pedigree to savor.

RATING 7 / 10
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