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Nervus - Everything Dies (Album Review)

Friday, 16 March 2018 Written by Laura Johnson

The title of Nervus’s sophomore album belies an optimistic streak. ‘Everything Dies’ suggests a bleak outlook and little hope of consolation, but throughout the record vocalist and guitarist Em Foster discusses acceptance, both personal and societal, alongside some frank words about insecurity and the damage done by preconceptions.

Over the course of 10 tracks, Foster ricochets between confidence and anxiety, defiance and defeat. The music that accompanies her lyrics is just as contradictory. Often the band's spiky, upbeat pop-punk riffs, notably those on Sick Sad World and The Way Back, propel us so quickly into a singalong that the grim subject matter is overlooked. But never for long.

The opener, Congratulations, immediately tugs at heartstrings by focusing on the impact of assuming rigid gender roles from birth. “On your first breath the expectation rests: who you should lie with in bed and exactly how you’ll dress,” Foster sings.

She follows it with the lyrical equivalent of a resigned sigh followed by a swiftly raised middle finger: “And you won’t fit, no matter how they try, in a box that’s half your size. So give up and let them hate the real you.”

Nobody Loses All The Time, inspired by the poem of the same name, focuses on the “difference between confidence and ego”. It has a reassuring, mantra-like chorus and also takes in the inky black humour of E.E. Cummings’ source material. “As we grow old, it’s in our interests to remind ourselves nobody loses all the time,” Foster sings.

There are other aspects to their sound, though. On Medicine, guitars chug and wail while Paul Etienne’s keys provide melancholic accompaniment, and the closer, Fall Apart, finds him taking the musical lead, adding another dynamic to an already multifaceted album. Drummer Jack Kenny keeps things ticking over at a decent lick and Karl Woods fills in the gaps with intricate basslines not usually associated with punk.

“I might be on my back, at least I’m looking up,” Foster sings on It Follows. It’s a line that captures the essence of the record: learn to live through, and make the most of, shitty situations. Nervus are aware of the world’s imperfections but still fight for their place in it, maintaining a healthy balance of optimism and cynicism.



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