HomeMusic“Stay on the Phone” From Back from Nothing

    “Stay on the Phone” From Back from Nothing

    There’s been an uptick in minimalism across the alternative rock spectrum lately but in the case of the new single “Stay on the Phone” from Back from Nothing, the aesthetic finds its way into a more abrasive form of pop than I’ve had the chance to come across in a long time. There’s scarcely a moment in which the suffocating tonal presence of the strings isn’t the strongest element in this mix, but make no mistakes about it; Back from Nothing wants us to focus on their classically punk lyrical structure, especially as it comes together in the midsection of the track. For being a cut-and-dry arrangement, this is a track that recalls some of the indulgences the Pixies experimented with at their height – and not in a bad way. 

    The physicality of this piece lives and dies by the stride of the rhythm, and I think it’s important to recognize the difference between this kind of approach and the typically rebellious look that a lot of this band’s contemporaries try to embrace. Say what you will about the cosmetics – they’re subjective – but the core of what makes this single such a fetching offering has much more to do with the cuts of the melody and the way it’s being thrust at us than any of the artificial packagings it’s surrounded by. A lot of bands can’t produce this kind of contrast inside of a single, but that just isn’t true of Back from Nothing. 

    I like that the bass here has a lot of oomph but never smothers any of the tonality that the other instruments have to offer. Balance is something a lot of artists forget about when they’re trying to swing the way this crew is in “Stay on the Phone,” but I like the way Back from Nothing makes it a centerpiece of their performance here. I’m just getting to know their sound, but they already have a certain warmth that I can tell they’re going to use to their advantage the more they get the chance to push themselves both in and outside of the recording studio. All in all, this is a good litmus test of their abilities, and I’m impressed with what their future looks like. 

    Alternative rock is always better when it’s frills-free and centered on instrumental presence, which is two of the reasons why I think this is one of the smarter singles to come out of the American underground this year. Back from Nothing doesn’t try to sound intellectual or over the top with any of their statements in this recording, and yet their indifference to the kind of egotism that a lot of their peers are embracing with a sense of irony is oddly their sharpest and most elite quality. It puts them in the same familial tree as bands like Dinosaur Jr., sans the noisiness of the melodic tone we’re getting in a song like “Stay on the Phone,” and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with their ambitions next. 

    Trace Whittaker

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