Wallows win the coming-of-age cliché

“Nothing Happens” is an effortless coalescing of their past and present sound

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Lemasters, Minnette and Preston infiltrated the indie-rock scene and show no signs of an impending hiatus.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Crashing symbols and coming-of-age anthems — both significant tropes of the indie-rock genre — are given a refreshing rebirth by Los Angeles rock band Wallows in their debut album, “Nothing Happens,” which dropped March 22. 

Members Braeden Lemasters, Dylan Minnette and Cole Preston have been playing in music groups together since the age of 11, making their synchronization seemingly effortless. Their cohesive and consistent sound has only improved since the band’s official inception in 2017. “Nothing Happens” is the obvious coalescence of their grungy guitar roots and newly mastered electronic prowess. While Wallows’ 2017 track “Pleaser” is a tune you would likely hear drifting from underneath a neighborhood garage door along with cigarette smoke and an urge to be up-and-coming, the new album is an indication that the band has undoubtedly made it. 

Lemasters, Minnette and Preston infiltrated the indie-rock scene and show no signs of an impending hiatus. “These Days” — the fourth track off their 2018 EP “Spring” — was proof of Wallows’ range and undeniable ability to lighten the mood of their otherwise angst-filled discography. Their follow-up provides them with a range unparalleled by a myriad of their counterparts.

The album’s debut was marked by the Feb. 1  release of lead single “Are You Bored Yet?” featuring the current it-girl of the bedroom-pop universe, Clairo. Her light, innocent vocals allow effortless harmonization between her and Minnette. The respective music video is eerie and reminiscent of a disconcerting dream, which happens to take place in a chaotic and brightly-colored karaoke bar. It’s iridescent colors and the odd presence of glasses of milk are nearly as shocking as discovering Wallows singer/songwriter Minnette holds the main role in the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” Although, who better to represent an artful coming of age cliché than a recent teen TV superstar?

Overall, the thematic content of “Are You Bored Yet?” sets the tone for the rest of the album, as it is calm and aurally pleasing yet also a serious inquiry between conflicted lovers. The majority of “Nothing Happens” is characterized by a tragic one-sided relationship and the mental battle of overcoming insecurity both in love and life.

The second release, “Scrawny,” is all about owning yourself, despite a negative internal diatribe and the obvious distaste of those around you. In this track, Minnette confidently and curiously sings, “If I’m offending them, I don’t mind / Maybe they should all listen to me / It isn’t all about what you see / Question though, how do I look to you?” 

From the opening track, “Only Friend,” to the closing track, “Do Not Wait,” Wallows create a flowing, sonic landscape of pure indie-rock. Their guitar-heavy choruses tie the album together yet render each song surprisingly unique. However, there is an apparent disconnect between the pre-released tracks, which exude shimmering, electronic beats, and the others on the album. The remaining songs are more reminiscent of their previous, stripped-down grunge-rock, although they hold trace elements of nuanced production.

Due to the presence of both past and present Wallows elements, “Nothing Happens” is a general continuation of their previous sound, solidifying their distinct style in a successful way — listeners will be unbothered by the absence of radical change, although die-hard Wallows fans will be pleased to hear a noticeable evolution of their instrumentation. It is obvious they are beginning to move away from employing a continuous wave of guitar in favor of strategic blends of strumming and synth.

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