The newest release from New England based nothing,nowhere. is probably best described as an auditory exploration of the darker side of the human condition. trauma factory is a 15 track expedition through the multifaceted ability for humans to experience trauma, whether it be self-inflicted, thrown upon us by others, or even the trauma we cause others who become casualties of our own existence. It’s a beautiful rendition, and worth the 40-ish minute devotion.
The opening and title track of this album is not so much a song as it is a melodic rendition of pain and longing with a story told over it. Guitar seems to echo across a vast expanse of water and slowly opens the floodgates to expose a raw, poetic spoken word piece. A male voice echoes over the tragically haunting soundscape with words like, “apathy drags me from the shoreline” and I was instantly dragged headfirst into the depths of this album. The final words, “human life is a trauma factory,” crashed over me and I was left with chills. I thought about ripping my headphones out right then and there to give myself a moment to recover from the emotional storm I just weathered. I instead trudged on, delving further under the surface into the depths of the album.
The first lines of second track “lights (4444)”, “paint my world a new grey / pain comes in different shades,” follows up the intro to the song beautifully. Smoothed over a placated pop rhythm, the artist found a way to express something difficult in a mellow way. This song explores the feelings that come along with leaving people behind when you move on to other things. Sometimes we wish we could carry everyone we’ve ever known through each stage or season in life, but it rarely works out so poetically. People are often left behind, and sometimes that causes rifts in what were gentle waters. The fine line between catering to others needs and putting yourself where you’d like to be can be a hard one to walk. This song captures those emotions and places them inside a bedroom pop anthem tastefully.
Where “lights (4444)” trekked through the struggle of leaving others behind in pursuit of one’s passion, “buck” puts the listener in the exact opposite situation. This song carries you through someone leaving you behind while they chase dreams, and takes you through how deeply that can cut through a person. Not only did someone leave you behind, they put their new life on blast while you feel stuck in the same place, repeating the same days over and over. It’s never a good feeling to be left behind, and “buck” takes the pain from that and puts it into an absolute banger. After listening to this album in its entirety so many times, this is still one of my favourites.
“love or chemistry” is the perfect example of that quintessential bad relationship. It’s one you feel almost trapped in, but never seem to escape from. The fluid guitar riff in the intro carries you through the remainder of the song, overlain with lyrics like “your love is like a poison pill, venomous / I swallow it every night” and “I don’t trust what I’ve been feeling / tell me is it love or chemistry?” The trauma here is the realization that these two people maybe do have some kind of chemistry — clearly they’re drawn to each other in some way. But there is also an air of pain and betrayal that comes from whatever relationship they’ve found themselves in that creates an unhealthy environment. Once you realize that what you thought was love maybe isn’t so much love but the aftermath of a fatal attraction, choosing which way to go can be daunting, leading to “dancing with my demons” and looking for “one good reason I should stay.” I love that musically, there’s a juxtaposition between the verses that are very upbeat and rapid, and the chorus that seems to slow down. This gives the listener another auditory representation of the back and forth someone in this situation feels in their mind.
In “exile,” the heavy bass that runs through the entirety of this song lends to heaviness the singer is probably feeling when they realize they’re lonely. Being alone is arguably one of the most painful feelings, when you find yourself lacking connection to others that can relate to you, or people fail to reach out when you expect them to. While I’ve never been on tour and experienced that side of the music life, there are so many elements of this song that I find myself relating to. “Lately something doesn’t feel right / I can’t tell if it’s nightmares or real life” sounds like something pulled from my internal monologue which is both painful (to know that someone else feels that way too) and reassuring (for the same reason). This entire album is both a painful experience and a comfort for that very reason. Knowing others, even people who could appear that they have all of this figured out, struggle with the same things we do is hard to wrap one’s head around.
“upside down” is an upbeat track that takes a look at the results of causing trauma to others. One of the things I found myself loving so much about this album is that it takes pain — not only ways pain can be inflicted on yourself, but also the difficulty of taking ownership of the pain you’ve caused to others — and turns those experiences into a musical masterpiece.
This next track, “pain place,” is a better look at the singer’s internal struggle through mental illness. With lyrics like “I’ve been so cold, live inside all the worry” and “get me outside my brain,” you’re able to see the way trauma can take hold of someone’s own mind and wreak havoc. It heeds the importance of taking care of yourself in a world dead-set on not giving you the time to do so. All backed by a familiar sound this album carries throughout its entirety.
“fake friend” is one of the songs that stood out to me the most as one that I could relate to on an extremely personal level. I appreciate the way nothing,nowhere. was able to relay betrayal by a friend, someone you thought had your back, in a way that still made me want to dance in my car. The way this music conveys such deep and palpable pain in a way that makes you want to sing along without crying is really a privilege to be able to listen to. “Losing you’s a real win” was the line that did it in for me. I think we’ve all been in that spot where you realize that you might be better off without someone you thought you couldn’t bear to lose.
Arguably the heaviest hitter on the album, “death” slaps. It rings in with a Beastie Boys feel and progressively morphs into an almost chaotic post-hardcore montage. This track almost felt out of place the first time I listened to this album; it doesn’t sound quite like anything else on the record. Lyrically it doesn’t feel like there’s as much substance here as there are on other songs. But the delivery is fierce and powerful, which I think adds what I thought was lacking from this tune.
“pretend” follows nicely after “death” as another rap-centered track. It’s not as fast paced as the previous, but still carries a little different feel than the rest of the album. To me, it’s about having someone to rely on to get you through the days you feel like you can’t get through on your own. And maybe it’s just a facade you create for your own security, but having someone beside you can carry you through the parts of life you’re scared to face alone.
I was stoked when I saw the track list for this album and saw “blood” as a KennyHoopla feature. This song lives up to every expectation I had, and then continues on to surpass them. I’m continually enamoured by the style KennyHoopla brings to all of his music, and the lyrical genius he exhibits with each new release. “blood” was absolutely no different and it remains one of my favourite tracks on the entire album.
If you’re out for revenge, “nightmare” is the song for you. What seemingly tells the story of being left for someone else, this song carries all the weight of that experience on the back of a soft-sounded pop tune. It’s a fun play on a not-so-fun experience a lot of people have lived through.
Wanting something out of reach is the theme of “crave,” painting pictures of locking eyes with someone who entices you without even speaking across a dance floor. It’s like a Romeo and Juliet re-telling in the 21st century, complete with neon lights and sport bikes. While this is probably the least painful song on the album, it still has its place on the track list and fits in well with the remainder of the collection.
I really have no words for “real.” This song is properly named, giving an intimate glimpse at the artist’s struggle with mental health. It’s raw, uncanny and the emotion is indisputable — you can hear it in the vocals on this track. Not only is it an exhibition of an internal battle with the likes of depression and anxiety, it’s the weight of other’s expectations on top of that, which can be a debilitating mix. The almost spoken-word style of this track is laced through with a graceful yet haunting chorus and melody. I have a soft spot in my heart for this track because of how tangibly vulnerable it is.
To close out the 15 track adventure we’ve just been on, we have “barely bleeding,” which feels like a great compliment to the previous “real.” When no one understands what’s going on inside your mind, you get lyrics like “I’m wide awake / and you’re still sleepin’” and “you watch me break / you’re barely bleeding.” This song left me feeling sad, and a little hurt knowing that someone is capable of feeling this kind of pain. It’s something almost indescribable, struggling with your own battle and seeing others thrive in what seems like a similar situation. But nothing,nowhere. put words and music to that feeling and it comes across in a stunning manner, even through the hurt.
Overall, nothing,nowhere. really did it with this album. It’s transcendental in the way it mixes different genres and musical elements in such a fluid way, while also creating this almost sensual rendition of different pain experiences. To be able to capture something traumatic and turn it into something not only relatable but something worth experiencing is a true feat, and this is just that.