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Even if you never came across any of their press materials, it’s fairly obvious that Nightmare of You has the Smiths as a fairly prominent tollbooth on their freeway o’ influences.
Jangly guitars? Check.
Mordant lyrics standing in obvious tonal counterpoint to aforementioned jangly guitars? Check.
Oddly sexual content of lyrics in face of seemingly generic inappropriateness of said sexuality? Check.
So, okay, we’ve run down the checklist, let’s get the whole thing out of the way: In an era when almost all music seems to call back to an earlier movement, Nightmare of You’s primary touchstone is the ’80s Manchester sound. The band’s name likely comes from the lyrics of the Cure’s “Kyoto Song,” and if that’s the sort of homage that’s apt to bother you, you can probably give Nightmare of You a miss and save yourself the tedium of the next hundred-odd words.
Lyrics like “Start a band or throw a brick / You lazy hipsters make me sick” may sound thematically Morrissey-esque, but they actually allude to the song “(The Gym Is) Neutral Territory” by mid-’90s New Jersey proto-pop-punksters Lifetime. And that right there is Nightmare of You in an allusional nutshell: a recognizably current posture coming through an equally familiar sound.
The band features former members of the Movielife and Rival Schools/CIV, but they’ve stripped most of the distortion and noise out of the sonics, replacing them with clean guitars, whoa-oh-oh-oh harmonies, and, on the most successful tracks, some New-New Wave mellotrons.
When it all comes together, as on “My Name Is Trouble” and “In the Bathroom Is Where I Want You,” Nightmare of You has something genuinely excellent to offer: a combination of the best elements of their influences combined with a distinctly 21st century attitude toward sex, fame, etc.
And even when it doesn’t all come together — when it is, at best, a strong, Smiths-infused methadone — your other alternative is to sit cold and alone in the corner, shaking violently as you wait for Morrissey and Johnny Marr to get it together to compose a new album. Even in that worst-case scenario, Nightmare of You is well worth checking out.
Nightmare of You tour dates:
9/29, Piscataway, NJ (Livingston Student Center-Rutgers) 10/13, Providence, RI (Century Lounge)10/15, Portland, ME (The Station)10/16, Albany, NY (Valentines)10/18, Johnson City, NY (Magic City Music Hall)10/19, Buffalo, NY (Showplace Theatre)10/20, Ann Arbor, MI (Blind Pig)10/21, Valparaiso, IN (Night Owl)10/22, Chicago, IL (The Beat Kitchen)10/24, Minneapolis, MN (Triple Rock)10/25, Iowa City, IA (Gabe’s Oasis)10/26, Dekalb, IL (The House)10/27, Milwaukee, WI (Mad Planet)10/28, Grand Rapids, MI (The Intersection)