Though some would argue the contrary, Louisville’s “indie rock” (whatever that is) scene can come off as a stridently dichotomous entity. On one end of the spectrum, the city is known for its prodigal sons of radio-ready anthems a la My Morning Jacket, Bonnie Prince Billy, etc. On the other, pupils in the Slint and Rodan school keep the flame of fringe alive – excellent acts like Nzambi, Phantom Family Halo, R. Keenan Lawler, and Softcheque who concoct boundary-decimating music that sometimes proves too challenging for the fried attention spans of the digital age sect. Very few artists have found the perfect median between experimental exploration and pop accessibility, and none have captured it with the panache that Nerves Junior has on their debut As Bright As Your Night Light.
The feat is particularly impressive as Nerves Junior is a young band still rife with potential. Less than two years old, all in their early 20s, Nerves Junior is a five piece who found a kinship by sharing a love for weird retro garage rock, crystalline pop songwriting, Brit-style bombast, and racks of analog gear. Let’s get comparisons out of the way because that’s what reviewers do, right? Deerhunter. Women. Lower Dens. And… I’m gonna say… I don’t wanna say it but it’s true… Radiohead. Usually when you see that name dropped, it’s frown town, indicative of some sort of archetypal shitty bar band that just happened to pick up a synth or a Boss Dr. Sampler. The Onion nailed that phenomenon perfectly a couple years ago. But when you see Stuart Phelps grinds his axe through the Masonic third degree on stage, and hear those razor sharp angular tones coupled with an unyielding sense of sonic adventurism, it’s not an unfair comparison. That’s just on the surface, of course. Viscerally, Nerves Junior are distinct; a formidable being that exited the womb with a fully formed musical identity.
Their nine-song debut offers an expansive, eclectic collection of electronic-laden, off-kilter pop with a hook-heavy edge and dense atmosphere, equally psychedelic and concise. Dreamy, ambient meditations and waves of soft acoustic guitar on the well-crafted “Get Left in the Dark” and the intimate down-the-rabbit-hole dirge of “Downtown Lament” represent one end of the group’s repertoire, while the dark analog stomp and driving mid-tempo of “Kale” and soaring, intricate chorus of “Swimmer’s Ear” showcases the group at their most expansive. Nerves Junior’s flawless meshing of airborne, resplendent textures and infectious choruses hit a fever pitch on songs like “In Absentia” and the aquatic, cathartic “Champagne & Peaches.” The title track suggests the grandeur of a stadium-ready chant, yet the tribal drumming and claustrophobic, monolithic wall of fuzz and reverb launches the song, and the album’s mid-section, somewhere wholly otherworldly.
Without compromise and immune to any and all trend-riding, Nerves Junior are paving their own path with a distinct spin on both the twilight fringes of post-punk electro futurism and denser-than-lead dream pop gravitas. Nerves Junior is a transcendent beast, one that can appeal to elitist niche ears as well as casual listeners. As Bright As Your Night‘s melodic sophistication and vast sonic palette is major league in every facet. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
<a href=”http://nervesjunior.bandcamp.com/album/as-bright-as-your-night-light” _mce_href=”http://nervesjunior.bandcamp.com/album/as-bright-as-your-night-light”>As Bright As Your Night Light by Nerves Junior</a>