The slow season for concerts up here in the Twin Cities has finally started and although I’m beyond bummed that I won’t have a show to go to every night, I’m equally excited that I will have some more time to focus on my always-growing list of albums to review so let’s start it off with the new self-titled EP from Nothing Special!
“Warden” doesn’t hold back and instantly kicks this album off with a pop-punk perfection vibe. Catchy, infectious, and fast, the beat of this opening track instantly had me shaking off the cobwebs from the nap I had just taken. The vocals soar above the instrumentation in a perfect way while not overpowering anything else going on. I don’t typically comment on the tone of instruments because, well, it’s just not something I always notice but the drum tone throughout this opening track is absolutely perfect. It’s a bit clicky and very prominent which sounds like it should stick out like a sore thumb but overall it fits so perfectly with the warp speed of this opening track and the overall mood.
The fast and furious pace of “Warden” continues into “Tweaker”. Even though this is the shortest track at right around two and a half minutes, this was an instant favorite of mine. At first listen, I could see how some people may say that this one sounds just like the opening track but I hear an almost surf-rock influence in “Tweaker” that I found completely addicting. There’s almost a little Weezer influence in this one while being overall full of a sound that can only be described as Nothing Special (and I mean that in a good way). Although “Leslie Mackerel” continues with the undeniable energy and ferocity as heard in the first two tracks, the vocals seem to take a bit of a turn. There’s just a little more tenderness that comes with every word while still being pop-punk perfection. Although I’ve loved all of the lyrics thus far in this all-too-short EP, the lyrics in “Leslie Mackerel” absolutely struck a chord with me in all of the right ways.
“Four Years Later” brings that hint of tenderness I got in “Leslie Mackerel” to the spotlight. Another track where I found myself falling for every single word as they flew by and were capitalized by the gang vocals just a minute in. Although I would consider Nothing Special’s sound to fit well into the resurgent emo scene happening right now, there were moments throughout “Four Years Later” that had me with my head stuck in a cloud of nostalgia. The way this band is able to produce something completely original and new feeling while having these understated nods to the pop-punk bands of years gone by is absolutely amazing and another one of my favorite things about this EP.
Instead of ending this five-song EP with a ballad-like song as I would have bet they were going to, “Lavender” ends this release with an infectious energy that had me super excited to go back and listen to the entire EP over again. The perfect exclamation point to a near-flawless record, I know there are only five tracks here and I’ve already deemed “Tweaker” as my favorite but I think “Lavender” also deserves to be thrown into that category. You hear a little bit of that surf-punk vibe I got from “Tweaker” while getting that perfect balance of nostalgia and new that I found in “Four Years Later”. This final track has it all is going to make it hard for anything to replace Nothing Special from my speakers for the remainder of the day.
My Favorite Track(s): “Tweaker”; “Lavender”
For Fans Of: Emo/ Pop-Punk Vibes Both Old and New; Honest Lyrics
Mosh-ability: 7 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie slept on the back of the couch; Autumn slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.8 out of 10
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