“In Absentia” is typically a legal term for a trial conducted without the defendant in the courtroom. The song bearing that same name by Louisville quartet Nerves Junior presents nothing of the sort, though, because behind the surface of its lethargic tempo lies the undeniable presence of the band’s four members, each playing an equally important role. Through intricate layering of woozy vocals, intricate rhythms, and warbled guitars, the band actively fights to prove the case for their brand of pop-structured heavy tunes, and the foursome continues to do so throughout the entirety of their entrancing debut, As Bright As Your Night Light. The verdict? Impressive. And not guilty of regurgitating their influences, but instead combining them into something novel.
Each song on this album is a lesson in how to push basic instruments to their creative threshold, as no two songs sound remotely alike. The unfurling of surprise after surprise – like Radiohead vibes on opener “Champagne & Peaches” transitioning into megaphone distorted, nearly shouting vocals on grinding “Swimmers Ear”, and so forth – makes for a truly compelling listening experience. The group takes a swing at toned-down hypnotics, too – backing off of the intensity of the first third of the album – pulling off the lengthy, aforementioned “In Absentia” and “Get Left In The Dark”. One ventures into a soundscape based heavy reverb and wandering guitars, the other goes for electronic beats and immense bass, but they both go off without a hitch. The definite standout of As Bright As Your Night Light, however, is the track that shares its name – the band’s first mastered song that popped up on Bandcamp earlier in the summer. Its driving bass line and terse vocals that swell into a psychedelic swirl and one catchy chorus are, quite frankly, irresistible. Then again, though, the entire album is.
Categorizing As Bright As Your Night Light may be a fruitless exercise, as it dabbles in a wide variety of sonic textures and layering combinations, transcending all generic conventions. That’s not to say the record isn’t cohesive, though, as the quality and overall aura of the songs are seamless – so much so that when singer Cory Wayne mumbles “I can’t shake it all,” one can’t listen to this solid debut once and disagree.
Essential Tracks: “In Absentia”, “As Bright As Your Night Light”