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Nodzzz - Innings

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Artist: Nodzzz

Album: Innings

Label: Woodsist

Review date: May. 16, 2011

The f-word gets tossed around a bunch when talking about Nodzzz. Fun, that is. They have always written insanely short, catchy pop songs in the modern idiom, and, for those looking for the one line post mortem, Innings doesn’t just not disappoint, it delights.

It also introduces another f-word. In 2007, Tyvek released a b-side called “Frustration Rock” that I’ve used as a starting point both musically and ideologically for contemporary indie rock bands. Fast and spastic while still coherent, it was the kind of song that let you know what was wrong without every making eye contact. Said sons of Detroit have since continued onto a rougher investigation of the id, but not to worry: Nodzzz is still very much sweating the small stuff, and making a deal out of it. This is the San Francisco scene’s Larry David.

Innings is not meant for the easily distracted, which is ironic considering its proximity to Ritalin. Each song is hyper-focused, even unhealthily fixated, on a single idea, sometimes to disastrous consequences. “Always Make Your Bed” is a good enough suggestion at first, with the makings for a perfectly twee sing-along. Lead singer Anthony Atlas derails this bit of good housekeeping, however, when he sings, “Always make your bed / in case you come home again.” The implication very quickly becomes that the bed is a place of defeat, be it a refuge from the cruelty of the world or a pathetic also-ran following an equally cruel date. Say what you will about Nodzzz, but players they are not.

It gets worse for them, too. There are moments where the self-awareness is crippling, which goes one step further into transforming a song into pure neurosis, all jumpy and scattered and maybe even a little scared of its own shadow. Both in lyrics and form, “(Low) Energy” tells the story of a trip to the movies, presumably a date, that unravels in barely a minute. “I can feel the energy desert me / how I knew it would,” but when Atlas goes to repeat it again, he can’t even finish the thought.

These small feats of ingenuity are one constant from their debut to this album, as are their cleverly underhanded critiques of the rock canon. Instead of the direct rebuke of “I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana)” and the sarcastic “I Was My Parents’ Vision,” however, Nodzzz engages in subtler subversion on “Time.” Atlas’s stringent from-the-larynx drawl stretches out into a Jagger-esque shadow, tackling the subject from the opposite end. He instead is intent on making the point that time is not on your side. It is something to appeal to, but never to be trusted. In his world, time is not the friend of the hedonist. Instead, it’s the boogieman of the existentialist.

By Evan Hanlon

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