Nightwell released their debut album on April 3rd, and I may be a little late to the party but this emo rock record single-handedly pulled me out of my isolation blues with eight impossibly perfect tracks that couldn’t have shown up at a better time.
From the beginning of quarantine until now, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to… anything, really. Getting in the mindset to discover new bands, or even to listen to old favourites, wasn’t possible. Maybe subconsciously I didn’t want to listen to music I enjoyed and have thoughts of the pandemic come back when listening post-isolation. Who knows. But save for a few livestream performances, I cut it all out. And now suddenly I’ve listened to Nightwell at least 50 times back to back.
It’s so rare to be able to write a hit. Some bands go an entire career without the one song that could break through to the mainstream. On Nightwell’s record, every single track could be it. “Confident” and “Runaway” were ideal selections to get people hyped for the full body of work. They’re catchy, they’re powerful, they fit in seamlessly on a variety of playlists to reach a variety of music fans. Diving into the full album after its release, “Medicate” joins those two in a tier of music that feels too sonically perfect to be man-made.
It seems impossible that human minds just… created this. They’re so uniquely Nightwell, and yet meticulously crafted to check every box on my list of what I look for in my music. Soaring harmonies, guitar riffs that I can dance to like a wacky inflatable tube man, well timed clapping for audience participation (thank you “Confident”), just the right ratio of head banging moments to songs that get the whole room to shut up and listen. It’s all there.
In a time when my way of coping is to experience no heightened emotions, this album actually makes me feel things. There are so many moments where my heart jumps in my chest or I get chills down the back of my neck. These are just a few of them:
in the chorus of “Crash” when Jason screams “car crash”
right after the chorus in “Crash”, the tone of the guitars reminds me of a less in-your-face Billy Talent and it’s oddly comforting
the background harmonies in “Tonton (Flowerless)”
the entirety of “Medicate”, a perfectly constructed song on all fronts
But despite a list of incredible moments, the true standout on this album is easily “Ball in a Box.” The song is based in the processing of grief & loss experienced by Jason through the loss of his father at a young age. The combo of the song and the video drives home the pain, and Terrance’s drumming in the first verse really captures the heaviness of the song in a way that makes me feel the weight on my own shoulders.
I can barely believe this is a debut record, and it’s equally shocking that this is the first release with the current lineup. This feels like a band that’s been doing this for years and is working like a well oiled machine by now. Imagine what they’ll release next? All future work is an automatic must listen. The moment we’re allowed out of our houses again, Nightwell is guaranteed to take over the world.
If you want to check out this whole album live, you can watch the band’s at-home album release show here! (it was a huge pick-me-up for me, so hopefully it can bring you the same escape if you’re struggling with our current situation)