Album Review: Nothing More’s The Stories We Tell Ourselves

by Quentin Singer

Rock and metal music, specifically “hard rock,” has gotten a bad rep over the past decade for being viewed as a recycled genre; one with no new avenues or vistas to get music fans excited. While, to the average music listener, this might seem true, any dedicated rock or metal fan would roll their eyes hearing this and spit an array of albums/bands for you to check out. One of those bands I can say for certain is Nothing More.

I have never listened to a band, that is considered to be  “radio rock,” be so heavy, sporadic, and poignant in their lyrical content. Yet, they still manage to get massive radio play and publicity. Nothing More is everything the rock genre as a whole needs right now, and with this year’s release of The Stories We Tell Ourselves, Nothing More has played their cards and is showing off a royal flush with their latest LP.

Starting from the first track on the album, Nothing More make a pretty poppy, hard-rock appearance with “Do You Really Want It.” While this track is not particularly the most noteworthy, it does make for some very catchy lyrics, particularly in the chorus and verse section. Honestly, this song’s purpose is what I would call being the “calm before the storm.” The song showcases to listeners what Nothing More has been capable of doing the past few years, with their guitar ‘chugging’ post-chorus breakdowns, to their extremely catchy choruses, and their moving/semi-political lyrics. However, “Do You Really Want It” doesn’t speak, nor display, a glimpse of what’s next to come, but rather serves as an ode to any longtime Nothing More fan.

Let ‘em Burn,” the second track on the album, is the first real taste of how brilliant a rock album this is. From the haunting, and even psychotic sounding intro, lead singer Jonny Hawkins rips open into this song with some classic Nothing More style screaming vocals accompanied by a very intricate drum and bass groove. Nothing More’s lyrical content often revolves around themes of social and political climates. There’s no question that a handful of these new songs share the same lyrical atmosphere, especially “Let ‘em Burn.” Jonny Hawkins says that vibe of most of the songs is about people lying so much on political issues and whether they realize they’re even doing so. The band really wanted to make a point out of this song, by showcasing their thoughts on how political and social issues are filled with such tremendous dishonesty throughout today’s media. From start to finish, “Let ‘em Burn” is a stellar track to the beginning of this fantastic rock record. To get a cool behind the scenes look at “Let ’em Burn” click here.

Trekking forward, “Don’t Stop” is the first single Nothing More released to tease the album over the summer. The song begins with a modern electronic drum groove muddled by a low pass filter. This track is very different at first glance, but the unique intro builds the song until it climaxes into an addictive groove and headbanging verse. A particularly interesting part of this song is that it’s an incredibly heavy and energetic tune. “Don’t Stop” doesn’t rely on and any sort of cliché rock standard such as making the instruments overly distorted and gargantuan. Instead, it features creative, yet simple, guitar riffs and arrangements that let the song naturally flex it’s raging and sporadic heaviness. From a lyrical standpoint, this song takes on the familiar Nothing More tropes of social issues, more specifically social norms to “choke out [one’s] illusions.” Very deep and poignant lyrics flutter throughout this track, relating to all the things we mask within ourselves to equate to social norms. This could be from things like setting new years resolution to lose weight or a mindless thought to change an irrelevant habit. Nothing More have made it their artistic goal to isolate these dilemmas that are constructed into our everyday lives, and they beautifully do so with their balance of poignant lyrics, heavy grooves/riffs, and catchy vocal melodies. “Don’t Stop” is everything a modern hard rock song should be and more.

While I could rave all day about how each song on this album justifies its superb quality, the tracks brought up were ones I thought set the overall tone of the album and what it has to offer. The Stories We Tell Ourselves show’s that the band has reached new heights of intricate and original songwriting. However, it should be mentioned that tracks such as “The Great Divorce,” “Still in Love,” and “Go to War” are absolute bangers as well. They each devote a tremendous amount of quality to the overall record. Whether you’re into rock music or not, Nothing More is worth checking out just to get a sense of the creativity and originality that is still present in rock today.