Review: Nouns, “Still”

Posted 4 years ago by Joel Funk

I want you to imagine yourself at your lowest point. Now, imagine that you decided you were going to record that point in your life to share with the world. That’s exactly what it feels like to listen to Still. Nouns has presented us twelve songs of raw, unedited human emotion that delve so much deeper than surface level. This release is thought provokingly dark, and certainly polarizing enough to merit discussion.

On your first listen through, this record should surprise you. It feels like a dark, twisted journey through the narrative of someone that can’t seem to get a firm grasp on anything, with real emphasis on why they should still be alive. And that’s exactly what this record is. There is no sugar coating, no watered down version of the truth. This is the kind of album that throws a wrench into your stomach, and this is the kind of record have you have to listen to more than once to fully digest. and I love it.

If you’ve read the lyrics, you should notice that each track is attributed to a separate identity. Nouns vocalist/lyricist Hunter Clifton Mann said in an interview that each of the identities used on the record are personas that have come about due to his bipolar disorder. Funeral Sounds was generous enough to give us the list of names, as well as which piece of the Hunter Clifton Mann puzzle these characters represent.

Olivia is what Hunter wants to be, the embodiment of positivity, optimistic, everything he isn’t. Oliver’s songs are his fantasies, things that never happened (the rest of the album is autobiographical, as I said, besides the two penned Oliver) but obsessions he had throughout high school. Jackson is the cynical, suicidal, depressed, immature, very angry with the world. His counterpart is J.D., the older version of him (Hunter’s parents wanted to name him Jackson… something. Dorian, I think.) J.D. is not as cynical or angry but is completely adamant that he has no desire to live, a more mature version of Jackson, really. – Funeral Sounds

It’s these characters, or rather the separate states of mind, that really make this album what it is. There is no question in regards to the authenticity of the lyrical content. You can hear just what a release making this record must have been. Being able to take all of these dark, plaguing moments of your life and present them as something you can and should be proud of is an achievement not many people can boast.

Musically, Still is a triumph. There are moments of crashing, consuming chaos and there are moments that communicate the monotony of daily life very well. More often than not, I find myself comparing this band to Against Me! with a personality disorder. I’m sure that has more to do with vocal tone than anything else, but I keep coming back to that. The middle portion of the album is without question my favorite in this slow decline towards an incredibly morose, haunting finale. Wreck, Ghost Legs, and Little Slugger are all songs that sound completely different (as they should since they’re presented by three different personas) but work together. There is an undeniable sense of connectivity that comes from working to the same end goal that gives them a real sense of fluidity. And, as I’ve mentioned several times, this album feels more like a diary. It’s definitely a psycho-analysts wet dream if I’ve ever seen one, which is what makes reviewing this record so difficult.

The execution of this album is fantastic, I just wish it sounded a little more polished. I’m not sure if the production value was a choice they made for artistic reasons or not. It works, there is no question there. I just feel like if the production was a little better, both the story and the music would shine equally.

Assigning a numerical value to this record is difficult because of how personal of a record it is. But, I’m going to give it a 3.5/5. If that production was just a little more polished, this record would have been an easy 5/5 and would probably sit pretty alongside The Hotelier’s Home Like Noplace Is There in my top five.

Listen to this record, that’s all I’m asking you to do. Nouns is a band that shouldn’t be ignored, and I can’t wait to see them grow.

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