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Nocturnal Animals

Writing on the Walls

Review by Gary Hill

I reviewed the previous EP from these guys and liked it quite a bit. I'd say if anything that this one is stronger. They still have the emo element on display, but perhaps this moves into more wide ranging territory than the previous set did. That one was far from a one-trick pony, so that says a lot about the variety here. My favorite tune is probably either the opener and the closer. Since those are the two most important slots on any disc, that's good decision making when it came to tracking this disc. The thing is, nothing here is weak by any measure. Some just happens to shine a little brighter than the rest.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fake Love
I dig the rocking riff that opens this. The band launch out into an energized hard rocking jam based on that element. As the vocals join it drops to a less involved instrumental motif. This has a real alternative rock meets emo kind of groove. It's catchy and classy.
Shiver
This is very catchy. It lacks some of the hard rocking immediacy of the opener, but makes up for the loss with more of a focus on hooks. This still has some of that emo element, but overall lands on the pop side of alternative rock.
Margot
I dig the rocking edge on this cut. It seems to sit somewhere between the two openers. For some reason the main riff reminds me a bit of the more rocking side of Michael Jackson - think "Beat It." I dig the guitar solo on this thing, and the whole cut works well. There's a dropped down percussive movement later in the track.
Dirty Eyes
There is a bit of a reggae vibe to this, but it's tempered with a hard rocking emo-like texture. The opening, though, is essentially acapella. Catchy and fun, this is a solid rocker. The faster paced, harder rocking jam later in the track brings some hints of heavy metal. The guitar soloing has a neo-classical element to it.
Fever Dream
Drums lead this out. It works into something not that far removed from the other tracks for the verse section. The more melodic and suitably dreamy break, though, is completely different than anything else we've heard. This is catchy and has a great groove. It's another classy tune on a disc that is full of strong songs.
The Haunting
I dig the acoustic guitar section that starts off the closer of the album. The vocals come in over the top of this balladic structure. It's a nice bit of variety. After the first verse the hard-edged, distorted electric guitar takes control, bringing the rocking textures with it. This is emo-tinged alternative rock. It drops back to an old school rock and roll flavored arrangement for the next verse. This is the most complex cut of the set, and really the powerhouse apex. That makes it the best choice for closer. This works through a number of changes and has some particularly dramatic movements. I am not sure I'd peg this as my favorite cut here, but it might be. It's clearly the most interesting and "out of the box." It ends after a noisy crescendo with a return to the acoustic guitar that started it.
 
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