Sound — 7
That's one of those cases when one idea covers all aspects of the band -- from music and album cover to their name and CD art. So, when you see The Nervous Return CD on the shelf of the supermarket, you know what to expect -- something sharp, aggressive and speedy, with fast beats and garage electric guitars, filled with all kinds of negative emotions. "Wake Up Dead" is the debut album of The Nervous Return for La Salle Records. LA foursome makes it with 10 tracks of alternative and hardcore-flavored '80s punk. The songs are very simple -- no multiple vocals or layers of guitars. Most tracks follow the same structure -- dark with echoed chords verses switches with lighter and more pleasant choruses. Even though all tracks are in mid-tempo range, they are very loud and sound energetic and fury. Distortion guitars add harsh feeling to the noise of music. The beginning of the album is like your badly cooked appetizer in a restaurant -- it's ok, but not as interesting, as further tracks. Though it warms you up for the rest of the record and gives you a feeling of what's gonna happen next. "Wake Up Dead" hits straight off very energetic avoiding any prelude with new-wave inspired "Dramahead." "It's Not Enough" is a bass-driven song with gangster-haunt feeling to it and "All you ever wanted was a kiss-goodbye from a gun" lyrics. "So And So From Such And Such" is the most dynamic and catchy song on the record. It tops the record by repetitions and predictable song structure. Sadly songs sound pretty much alike and there's not a single ballad on "Wake Up Dead."
Lyrics — 7
Trying to listen to the lyrics, you wonder -- either you're too stupid to understand the great satire or the author was feeling like a drunk superstar and it's almost impossible to understand. That describes only verses though. Choruses are plain and simple -- "You're such a bore, why you so uptight anyway?/Your mama never give love to baby?" The guys show a perfect sense of cynicism at times. Vocalist Jason Muller cares more about emotions and expression, then vocals. Shout-along verses followed by dissonant and a bit more melodic choruses.
Overall Impression — 7
You wouldn't expect much from a band signed to Blink 182's Travis Barker's record label. But don't judge them only by their label -- The Nervous Return's got much more creativity, then most pop-rock-punk groups and they certainly have an attitude that differs form a polished radio-friendly format. Surprisingly it turns out punk, as a genre, is not so hopeless nowdays. The band definitely has it's lows too -- when it comes to lyrics and CD art for example. But they've got potential to improve. The first thing that attracts your attention -- there's no harmony in music. As well as no reasonable logic in lyrics. Dissonance of every shade appears in all parts of art, tending to be more powerful and noisy, than melodic. The record is infectious, but the sound risks to get old pretty soon. Highly recommended to listen to the record if you're pissed off or need a blast of energy.