When it comes to ultimately deciding how to judge The Nightmares as a band, the process has been more difficult than maybe it should. For one, they’re still a brand new band, and influences being worn clearly and prominently on sleeves is going to be a natural factor regardless of who they are. But up to now, they haven’t exactly done anything with those influences that really leaps off the page, largely coming down to taking a very blantant love for Joy Division and similarly airy, gothic post-punk and just doing the same thing. Again, it’s hard to begrudge them for that at the end of the day, but already it’s been struggling to stick, and it’s led to expectations subsequently being a lot lower for this self-titled EP than perhaps would normally be the case. Still, bands have made more drastic face-turns than this in the past, and there’s at least a chance that a greater breadth of styles could be factored in when given slightly more room to grow and develop.
But that doesn’t really happen, and the big question surrounding The Nightmares’ debut EP shifts from what they can do, to whether they can do much of anything at all. As much as they’ve fixated on the gothic post-punk sound that has a workable kernel of an idea here, it’s not like there’s much done with it, and as such, what’s left is an increasingly monotonous and unwhelming collection of tracks that sees a band digging their heels even more deeply into the influences instead of moving away from them to build something of their own.
And as such, it doesn’t leave a great deal to discuss with regards to what The Nightmares actually deliver, as it’s not much more than a Joy Division retread that, with Eleanor Coburn’s brighter keys that serve as the closest semblance of a saving grace, inject a fraction of pop spirit into things. In fairness, her contributions dapple a bit more light onto Adore or give From The Start a pivot that’s much more in line with ‘80s synthpop, both of which offer some levity and feel a bit less drab, but otherwise, the hollow, monochromatic progressions made do little to assert The Nightmares’ presence as a band. It doesn’t help when more or less the exact same tones are used and effectively cause this whole thing to blur into one mass, but that’s also because nothing really stands out either. Adam Parslow is not a captivating vocalist in the slightest in his approximations of a more vulnerable Ian Curtis, but when he’s so quiet within a mix that prioritises the gothic opulence of everything around him, it’s hard to formulate any real opinion other than a lack of being able to care. Yes, it’s well-put-together and the production has a nice expensiveness to it that does boost The Nightmares’ clout slightly, but when it’s not to put to any good use with compelling music or content, it simply feels like a waste. The ideas within this EP are solid, but there’s barely anything concrete built out of them to highlight that.
That’s not to say that The Nightmares won’t pick that up in time, either; they’re still very new, after all, and there’s still time for them to get to grips with all of this. But right now, they’ve not made the best first impression, doubling down on the morose knell that post-punk can often be all too guilty of and refusing to do anything particularly interesting with it. And really, that’s about the extent of what can be said about this band right now; they’re not exactly doing anything else worth mentioning, and when that automatically thrusts their output right to the fore, you’d hope they’d have more to offer with it than this.
For fans of: Joy Division, No Devotion, Siouxsie And The Banshees
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Nightmares’ by The Nightmares is released on 12th April on Pretty Hate Records.