Words: Oliver Crook
Release Date: 24th June
Record Label: Get Better Records
FFO: Into It. Over It., Fresh, Fightmilk
None of us ever doubted the potential of Nervus across their first three records. Nor has the brilliance of their incisive lyrics and infectious pop-punk ever disappointed. Since they burst on the scene in 2016, the Watford four-piece have captured our hearts and validated our fears. They showed their vulnerable underbellies on debut Permanent Rainbow and 2018s Everything Dies, then charmed us with an enviable political utopia on Tough Crowd. Their latest offering however, feels like a culmination of all their previous work: A micro and macro look at the world, a deep analysis of individual identity as well as how it interacts with society. Armed with their trademark melodies and keen eye for nuance, The Evil One takes the best of Nervus and stretches its over 35 minutes.
Usually when a band’s genre begins with “anarcho,” you expect screaming guitars and strained vocal cords: The Evil One doesn’t really present either. What it does offer, however, is the passion and political ideals that the prefix demands. Despite clearly being a punk album, few moments feel like they’re going to descend into chaos. The distortion rarely creeps past six. The vocals are powerful yet tuneful. They’re much more Into it. Over It than The Germs. Nervus’ punk claims come from their aesthetic and their willingness to put their feelings and politics front and centre. In this light, the album is dripping with punk credo.
‘Dropout’ is a great example of this dichotomy. An easy riff allows the song to breeze along: You can tell they listened to more Neil Young than Turnstile during the writing process. Only once you dive in do you hear the class-conscious dissection of the university system and its knowledge hoarding.
The album is loaded with these heady moments. Opener ‘Iconoclast’ champions humanity’s inevitable win over capitalism, while upbeat standout ‘Rental Song’ is a song about debt and credit sang with tongue pressed firmly against cheek. The ridiculously catchy and thought-provoking ’Rotting Mass’ is a conversation on our place in nature’s cycles.
The core of the record, however, is its fun nature. Even at its lyrically heaviest, when it feels like the issues are going to suffocate you, it’s hard to ignore the burning desire to dance and yell along. After all, you need something to sing with the windows down on the way to the protest.
This review features in Issue 5 of Hardbeat which also includes chats with Bob Vylan, Nervus and Vukovi, as well as reviews of the upcoming Conjurer record. You can purchase Hardbeat Issue 5 here.