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A Nervous New Sound

By Eileen Boylan

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The debut of band, The Nervous Return, certainly caused a few heads to turn. Their first album, Headshots, shocked many with their CD cover of a girl holding a gun in her mouth. I would imagine it'd be hard to pass by an album like that while perusing the aisles at Virgin Records. People couldn't help but ask--who was this new band? But the real question was, are they any good? They were obviously good enough to catch the attention of Blink 182 drummer, Travis Barker, who signed them as the first act on his new record label. Their comeback of 2004 lies inside the boundaries of Wake Up Dead, a fresh new album with irony and satire within the agenda.

Their music forces you to do the uncontrollably clichéd foot tap, but the real meaty stuff displays itself throughout their intelligent lyrics. They hit real cynicism with songs like 'Dramahead'. "…You're such a drag, it's such a thrill to be here, got nothing better to do, improving everyday and suicidal, and everything is alright, and only moments from hell, I'm glad to just be alive, I want to die…". And aside from their jackpot 'meat', their bouncy beats leave you humming the tunes soon after. A cool new way of rock music that is reminiscent of old school seventies grunge pop era bands such as The Ramones. Morbid truth and satirical wit speckle itself throughout the album in songs such as Radiate, Wake Up Dead, and It's Not Enough. But the cleverness is found when you realize that there is truth behind all the ironic statements.

One song I particularly took interest in was the dark, tongue in cheek song Skin Flavored Lollipops (Wicked title, eh?). The song displays how sex can embrace you at that one moment and feed you a world of fantasy and pleasure, but then you realize the reality of it after the fact and consequences follow. I love the substance they speak in their lyrics. It holds you in like you're reading someone's diary and the impact is remarkable.

However, one minor thing held me back from getting the full experience of the CD. There was slight repetition throughout the songs which left me bored after a while. The duplication of the same beat mixed up a little and then thrown together again and again left me to wonder why such a smart band couldn't find another beat to play with. Also, the vocals annoyed me to some extent. It seemed like they wrote these amazing songs, came up with one catchy beat and then didn't realize how they were going to put the words and music together. The first song on Wake Up Dead (Dramahead) caught my attention with it's truth and cool sound. Then I heard the second song, then the third, then the fourth and it felt like I was just listening to one ridiculously long track. Granted, this was my first impression of the band and, in my experience, you cannot fully grasp the real effect of a CD until you've heard it at least three times. So, that's exactly what I did. The repetitiveness still bothered me a teeny bit, but the vocals grew on me. It took me a second to realize why they were singing the way they were and I finally accepted this new sound for what it was. After that third listen I truly did feel like I was experiencing what a diamond in the rough really meant.

You can retain more information at www.thenervousreturn.com. Wake Up Dead is in stores right now.

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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