REVIEW: “Nothing Happens”, by Wallows is a survival guide for young adults
After two years of advertisement, tours across the United States, releases of detached singles, as the debut Pleaser, of 2017, from Spring EP, 2018, and other singles in this space of time, Wallows finally debuts with the full length album Nothing Happens, released in april of 2019.
Formed by Braeden Lemasters (vocals/guitar), Dylan Minnette (vocals/guitar) and Cole Preston (drums), the Los Angeles trio is one of the big promises of this new era of young artists in the american alternative musical scene, which counts with other names like Clairo (who collaborated in one of the tracks of Nothing Happens), King Princess, Rex Orange County, among others.
Since their 2017 debut, Wallows has been performing in many festivals around the country, like Lollapalooza, in 2018 and Coachella in early 2019, both were a good way to spread the band’s work and increase their fan base while the so waited album didn’t arrive.
Nothing Happens is produced by Grammy-winner John Congleton, who also signs on other works of renown in the indie pop/rock scene, as Spring EP itself, the self titled album by St. Vincent and Antisocialites, the second record of Alvvays, a big musical inspiration for Lemasters. The album is composed of 11 tracks, all written by the trio, and that portray unceremoniously the turbulence of feelings inside a young adult in their early 20s: just like The Perks of Being a Wallflower is for cinema, and John Green’s novels are for literature, Nothing Happens is a coming-of-age for your ears.
Starting off with a fade in and a guitar riff that will become familiar during the material, Only Friend brings within itself a melancholic lyric, that approaches feelings of lost, solitude and isolation. In a certain way, it’s a smart and bold choice to start the album, once that shows there’s no problem in being vulnerable straight on. In Treacherous Doctor, the next song, the impression given is of someone in disbelief, contrasting with a fast beat, transmitting almost a feeling of revolt through the instruments. Are You Bored Yet, the collaboration with Clairo, discusses relationships worn out by time, relying only on self indulgence. The keyboard notes flirt with 80's successes and make us visualize a vintage scenery, and just like Dylan’s and Braeden’s voices fit together, Clairo’s soft tone is a welcomed addition to the track.
The ironic Scarwny, in counterpoint to the format which all previous songs were presented, chooses to make fun of the troubles of youth, bringing in it a certain sarcastic pride in chant verses like “You don’t like my clothes but you still like my smile, scrawny motherf***er with a cool hairstyle [...]”. The addictive chorus is well received, once that it helps set the laid back atmosphere the song proposes, in the end, with the combination of all these elements, the track is a must-have in live performances, where the audience can feel free to scream the lines as loud as possible.
Other songs also deserve highlighting, like Ice Cold Pool and I’m Full, however, Do Not Wait has an emotional baggage larger than the previous tracks, which gives it a highlight of its own. The almost absence of cords in 3 of the 6 plus minutes of duration of the song transports is once again to an intimate atmosphere, but this time, even if presenting itself as vulnerable as in the first songs, the pessimism is replaced by a reality shock (spoken, not sung, by Dylan) while Braeden chants the chorus that ends the track with a reception to this new fase of life by repetitively saying: Do not wait, I’ll be there.
Confirmed to be in the next editions of Lollapalooza in South America and well established in the alternative scene, the band, how we’ve come to expect after two years of hard work, presents a big evolution compared to its debut, with the single Pleaser, it’s possible to note that the trio consolidated itself along with the creative process of Nothing Happens. As it happens inside the mind of someone young, everything around it is dealt with in a very intense way (even if the situation doesn’t demands such intensity), and that’s what the album proposes to bring, by showing honestly all faces and fases of a young adult in the maturing process.
Translation: Anna DeMarco