Released: February Genre: Punk Metacritic Rating: N/A CRM Rating: 9.5/10
I’ve been waiting to write this since February, and for a guy who isn’t particularly patient the fact that I made it without publishing my AOTY in March is quite the achievement. Not as much of an achievement, however, as Still, which is by some distance my favourite record of 2014. Nobody this year, or potentially in the last few years, has released a record as emotional as Still is, and for someone who looks for emotion in an album Still offers it in abundance, a suckerpunch to the soul from start to finish. I always want a record to stir something within me, and listening to Still is like swallowing a tornado.
I did a quick Google search before writing this, and as far as I know only three sites online have reviewed this record, and I’m pretty happy to be one of them. I set up this site because I wanted to tell people about records that I love, and looking back on Still, it isn’t one of those records – it’s the record. What I found earlier this year was an album I wanted to tell the world about, I wanted people to find it and love it, because it deserves nothing less. I wanted people to take the same experience from Still that I did, and I wanted to share what is undoubtedly the most important record I’ve found in 2014. Each song has its own distinct personality, and in each song I find a similar sort of inspiration, be it in the stomp of Little Slugger or the pensive crawl of Daydream. Closer I Wish I Could Stay Here always chills me to the bone, but after doing so leaves me oddly optimistic, whilst opener Fourteen offers a genuinely heartfelt message which is impossible not to take on board. Still is creative and claustrophobic, cathartic and consuming, and it never fails to leave a lasting impression.
February feels like a lifetime ago, and over the last ten months or so Nouns’ music has been a constant companion; personally I find an ocean of comfort in the rolling sonic waves of its contents. Still puts me at ease at another’s expense, it screams at me that I’m not alone, and it makes me both delightfully happy and delightfully sad. Across twelve tracks Nouns have laid themselves bare, and upon the records conclusion it’s almost impossible not to applaud their vulnerability, and the way they use it to effect a listener. Still inspires me; to create, to be a decent person, to be okay, and I’m not sure if any release has sparked my imagination and emotions as much as this one has. It gives the record an enthralling and rousing quality, and it’s a quality which is also frustratingly tough to effectively vocalise. It gives me hope ultimately, and it does so by being painfully emotional; I can’t listen to it and not lose myself in it, be it the dynamic energy of I Feel As Though I’ve Failed or the crushing weight of I Still Want To Make You Proud, which never fails to cripple and then mend me again. Sixth track Wreck seems to say what I rarely have the balls to (‘I’m sort of scared / I’m nineteen years old / already dead set on being alone‘); I’m twenty now, and the song is one of the many examples on Still where I find a vessel or sorts for my own self-expression. I remember listening to it the day after my twentieth birthday, walking home at 6AM after a great night through empty streets and feeling as alive as I ever really have. To me, music is meant for those moments, and it isn’t the only time this year in which Still has made me appreciative of what I have and the person I am. I listened to it driving down south to start University; I listened to it after the funeral of a good friend; I listened to it after I found out my (now ex) girlfriend had been screwing around for a few months, and I’m listening to it right now – no surprise. Still, on occasion, is me at my lowest point, but I never feel that way listening to it, anything but. I guess that Still makes me better, it helps.
Throw in the fact that Nouns’ second LP was recorded in / on ‘various bedrooms, dens, practice spaces, sheds and living rooms, floors, coffee tables’ and you have a release which, aside from being exceptional lyrically, creatively and emotionally is also pretty damn commendable elsewhere. Nouns worked for their art, and they likely struggled, but what came out of it is a record which is far from polished, but which stands apart because it’s clear that the guys making it give a shit about playing music. Still seems like definitive proof that you don’t need to record on a big budget, you don’t need Rick Rubin behind the glass, because as you long as you care enough about what you’re creating you can make something pretty damn special anyway. I think that’s great. Outside of the music, it also helps that Nouns care about their listeners, you only have to take a look at their Facebook or Bandcamp page to realise that Nouns do indeed ‘just want you to be okay’, and for me, Still is a record which reassures me of just that. It ruins me emotionally, but does so in the best way, (still) bumming me out, but doing so whilst pointing towards a light at the end of the tunnel, and I appreciate that quality even more than I appreciate the bands awesome DIY attitude.
After publishing my review in February I received an email from vocalist / lyricist Hunter Mann thanking me for the kind words, which helped him out, and now I look back knowing that Still has helped me more than he’ll ever know. For me, Still is a prime example of music which exists as more than just music. All I did was write a review about a record I loved, and that seems incredible tame in comparison to a work like Still. Artists reaching out to the bloggers who say stuff about their music is always cool, but I respect these guys a great deal for what they’ve released, and I suppose an AOTY justification gives me another chance to express that. Above all else, Still moves me, and that’s the best praise I can give it; an AOTY means nothing if the record itself doesn’t matter, and nothing else this year has mattered anywhere near as much as Still has.
I’ve reviewed a lot of music on this site, more than I ever hoped to, and if I could suggest that you listen to any of the releases covered it would be this one every single time. If my praise hasn’t made you sick yet, and you’re still reading this then I implore you to listen to Still, it might be the decision you make in whichever year you’re reading about my favourite albums of 2014 in.