NothingDark is a 3-piece from Montreal Canada, formed in 2018. Its members, made up of Nack Jicholson (Vocals, guitars, synth), Roxanne Miller (Bass, backing vocals) and Matt Davis (Drums, percussion) are inspired by 80’s synth pop and rock. Nack & Matt handle all recording, mixing, and production in the band’s well-equipped Montreal studio. “Tragicomedy” is their 2nd EP, while work on the third and fourth installments are already underway. For any of you synth lovers out there, this is the record to get, though there is plenty of guitar too. NothingDark is a band that will take you to places both musically and visually that you thought only existed in some distant past. The band is exotically ‘synthified’ while maintaining enough elements of alternative rock to attract that crowd too. Their oscillating basslines are immediately recognizable, the ambient keyboard textures unmistakable and the psychedelic rushes of their vocal phrasings make for an arresting listen. It is ostensibly an electronic record, but there is a rock sensibility hiding within its layers.
The minute they kick in with the mid-tempo rhythm of “Dancing on Flat Earth”, you know that these guys just have such a fresh sound that they will pull you in and hypnotize you with their beats and lyrics. Modern and yet nostalgic sounding, there is a slight Bono-ish lilt in the voice, as the music carries you away on it swaying rhythm and sprawling arrangement.
No one else currently really sounds like NothingDark, who wield, quite majestically, both astute hind and foresight. Every song on this EP is a potential earworm. NothingDark’s songs are both intensely atmospheric and totally accessible.
The bass line alone on “Look Away Look Around” is worth the price of the EP, and a riff I wish I had written. This low rolling rumble gets right under your skin and drives the song beyond mesmeric. It swirls and pops, clicks and snaps into a whirling vortex of groove.
Here the trio provide us with a sophisticated-palate blend of sonic pleasures. This track is close to being the best of the bunch. Certainly it is the most bass-heavy of the bunch – the beat is deep and sticky, pairing with the driving percussion to form a sonic honeycomb. Gorgeous and dark, the vocals too, are absolutely mesmerizing.
It’s this structural mastery, combined with the sort of impressionistic shards of synth and melody that NothingDark are so good at, that leads the EP towards the descriptions of “atmospheric” and “visual”.
Close your eyes with “More Ups Than Downs” coursing through your ears, and you’ll feel as if you can touch every sonic layer the song breathes. Steamy drums flourish in an ever thickening sound palette supporting the mellifluous lyrical shimmy. It is magnificent. Naturally, the whole thing demonstrates guile.
What pushes NothingDark above the pack, besides the beats, is its casually, strutting vocal melody; an intertwined chain of words that wriggle around the cranium. Those captivating traits surface on “Coldblood”, and with it, NothingDark takes you away – to the past, to the future, or to where you want to be.
“Tragicomedy” sees the band at their most lucid, melodically and rhythmically. They have crystallized their sonic vision into an ideal form of intellectually and emotionally satisfying music. Definitely a must have for any at all interested in synth driven indie-rock music.