Nothing, Dancing on the Blacktop (Relapse Records, 2018)

Philadelphia band Nothing are back with their third album, Dance on the Blacktop. New music from another major player in the hardcore-cum-shoegaze movement, Nothing bestows nine tracks of clamorous and effects-laden sounds layered impeccably with dreamy melody.

Though some might be expecting the standard fare of disciples worshiping at the altar of their pedal board, Nothing manages to focus their energy into well measured bursts, not so much restraint as well placed intention. You have their characteristic loudness clanging around between cymbals and effects, then a surprising melody breaks through to balance discordant and melodious. This delineation sets the album apart from other droning shoegaze and lays bare the band’s dream-pop tendencies.

This album is loud in a way that’s completely divorced from the volume setting, but also at times sinks into absolute lushness. Not heavy in the traditionally musical sense the word is used, more heavy like a wet net, tangling, and thrashing but not suffocating.

Each song is a distinct piece and resists the inclination to run together, as is characteristic of this genre. Tonal shifts throughout make it difficult to decidedly classify one cohesive vibe, but in a way that seems natural in the context of the album.

Pick apart each song and you find different connections and layers, a multitude of moving parts that may not all come together in a tidy package, but interlock with the components around it; functioning more like a Rube Goldberg machine than a grandfather clock.  

Photo: Ryan Lowry

A broad spectrum of influences peek through, most more interesting than the standard. Instead of cos-playing as Swervedriver, Nothing has managed to blend surprising elements of post-punk (think classic like The Cure to hints of Interpol), distinct echoes of pre alt-right Nosferatu Billy Corgan Smashing Pumpkins, and even toying with a classic surf type riff on "You Wind Me Up." "Then, the last two minutes of the closing track — “(HOPE) Is Just Another Word With a Hole In It)” — delve into Seattle sadcore pioneers Carissa’s Wierd territory."

Dance on the Blacktop offers a complex spectrum of highs and lows, working together to produce a unique and dynamic soundscape that’s abrasive and enjoyable.


Nothing's Dance on the Blacktop will be out on Aug. 24 via Relapse Records.

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