Swedish natives Nightmen formed in 2014, as a collaboration of members from bands such as Terrible Feelings, Yast and MF/MB. The four piece’s sound is strikingly different from these previous ventures; it is an amalgamation of garage rock and sugary sweet power pop that results in a catchy throwback. Their debut EP ‘Girl for You’ was released by Rundgang Records and was described as a “charmingly vibrant garage rock with nods to the pop music of the 60’s” by ‘Gaffa’ magazine. The band followed this up with their first LP ‘Fifteen Minutes of Pain’ in 2016, on ‘Lovely Records’ and received mostly positive reviews. Now, only a year later, we admirably see the release of this second LP ‘Can’t Avoid Success’; a record that is a mere twenty five minutes in length and relies on a softer backdrop with extra pop sensibilities.
With eleven tracks, and only two of these clocking in over the three minute mark, this records first impression is charming, nostalgic and effortless to digest. In today’s music industry of which we see prolific releases of astounding grandiose production, this record initially demonstrates the appeal of throwing it back to the basics of 1970’s punk rock grit and simplistic mastering. The drums and bass are quiet, the guitars are scrappy and heavy on the treble, and the vocals are distorted with heaps of gated reverb. This is taking it back to the basics with clear nods to the greats such as The Ramones and Dead Moon. Not only is the band’s sound of an old school nature, but they present it with a vintage image straight out of the 1970’s – mullets and denim galore, which can either only add to the immersion of coolness or be perceived as pretentious based on your level of investment in the overall package.
Opener ‘Over You’ is a happy go lucky march of down strummed guitars, four/four central drums, and a subtle taste of the vocal melodies to come across this record. Similarly to this, second track ‘Velvet Curtains’ brings very little new to the equation in terms of musicianship or pace, but an organ which pads out the dynamics a little, and the introduction of the ‘ooh’ vocal hooks which are scattered all across this LP. The vocals of these eleven tracks are shared between Tony and Christine, and third song ‘City of Fun’ introduces Christine’s to a successful result. Her voice balances between soft and gruff as she soars “I want to make you feel the fire tonight” – unfortunately these lyrics do not directly translate in the literal sense, as the repetition of these tracks diminish any sense of feeling after a short while. ‘Summer Shakes’ is a feel good personal favourite; the use of playful backing vocals “sha la la la” behind Christine’s tuneful “I can’t hardly wait” hook is reminiscent of classic The Beach Boys choruses and is entirely endearing.
Harkening back to the early punk movement of The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, ‘Why (Tonight)’ brings a charged distorted riff, sleazy vocals and rock n roll guitar licks with a rough edge before an abrupt end. ‘Be My World’ sits on the middle of this record and is a greatly welcomed change of pace as it begins on a gentle drum roll, vibrato guitar riff and sombre tone telling a romance tale. Moreover this track leads to personal favourite ‘Ahahahah (Oh No)’ a simple and catchy tune with one of the records most triumphant choruses. These two tracks serve as the records one-two punch that is needed and purposefully demonstrate them at their very best.
It is clear that Nightmen are not largely aiming for variation across this record as almost every single track follows the same formula, the same drum beat at slight different tempos, and comparable chord progressions, and this is going to be a make or break situation to the listener depending on how it is approached. It seems fitting to be consumed as a record that prides itself on simplicity, vibe and to be played in the background or as a soundtrack to a video montage, rather than in the foreground to grab your attention. Unfortunately the back end of this record loses momentum as the hooks begin to decrease in strength and repetition begins to take its toll. ‘Too Late, Wild Heart’ sits on a blues inspired backbone, and brings emotion and soul from Christine’s vocals but moves at a snail’s pace, whilst closer ‘I Will Be Fine’ tackles the acceptance of moving past a relationship but is wholly forgettable and weak in comparison to some of the earlier choruses.
As far as throwback music is concerned, this record largely succeeds. What you see is what you get; and at such a short running length, it is worth a listen if only to remind yourself of the garage band era and all of the great music that came from that scene. It has a few strong moments, but is largely lacking in variation.
Swedish four piece return with second LP of a hit and miss throwback