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Nothing People - Soft Crash

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Artist: Nothing People

Album: Soft Crash

Label: S-S

Review date: Mar. 4, 2010

Northern Californiaís Nothing People seem intent on keeping the lowest of profiles, with little information, even member names, sneaking its way out. Their first album, 2008ís Chrome-inspired Anonymous, even declared their strategy via its title. With their third album in as many years, though, they may not be able to hold onto their anonymity for much longer.

On Soft Crash, the group makes a slight directional change from last yearís sophomore LP, Late Night. Their sound remains defiantly low-fi, but not in the currently fashionable mode of burying pop songs in fuzz. Nothing Peopleís fidelity is actually more distant than low, with dark reverb and tape echoes imparting a cellar ambience, as if the band were playing in an abandoned bunker.

This is not to say that the details are lost. Compared to the slower pacing of the aptly-named Late Night, these songs spill over with energy, as if Nothing People revisited their debut album and their post-punk collections. Exhuming Chromeís buzz, they reimagine Joy Division and Birthday Party as space rock bands. "Is This What You Want" starts things with a driving, motorik rhythm obscured by churning guitars and freaked-out synths, all underneath chanted vocals from the Ian Curtis school. This is space rock as it should be updated -- twisted, yet propulsive. "Remember How Cold It Was (Part 1)" is an ideal Exhibit B, a mechanical beat and repetitive riff filled with crazed vocals and swirling analog delays, spaced out and unstoppable. The flailing, distorted lead guitar splatters everything until the song crashes to a sudden halt.

Itís the kosmiche buzz amidst gloomy atmospheres that really lends the album a unique flavor. Every sound is buried in reverberation and delay, whether itís a booming bass drum, the tick of a distorted snare, the tock of a pulsing bass, or the smears of guitar. At times, these songs reach MBV levels of churn. The industrial charm of "Wasting Our Time" is reminiscent of unsung pioneers like Factrix and Circle X, while elsewhere the band shows it can write a mean pop tune -- albeit one welcomely drenched in grime.

A terrific blend of power and ambience, Soft Crash is a strong album that -- despite the above comparisons -- lies just beyond most easy landmarks. Each song hits a wide variety of touchpoints and times, such that the album feels like it could have been made 30 years ago. In that sense, itís somewhat out of time.

Itís early in the year, but Iíll be very surprised at the end of it if Soft Crash isnít near the top of my most-played albums of 2010.

By Mason Jones

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