With their debut album Nothing Happens, released March 22, Wallows encapsulates the melancholy and whirlwind of youth while making it sound almost fun.
The three-piece band consists of Braeden Lemasters on guitar and vocals, drummer Cole Preston and Dylan Minnette of “13 Reasons Why,” who also plays guitar while sharing vocals with Lemasters. Minnette collaborated with his bandmates over the course of a decade for performances at South by Southwest and their EP Spring.
In their most recent work, the band tackles concepts of loneliness, anxiety and heartbreak while pairing them with indie rock instrumentation. Wallows takes the indie rock genre, which is famed for exaggerating flashiness and prioritizing aestheticism, to create an album that is equal parts lyricism and music. It’s dreamy and wistful without sounding like it belongs in a trendy department store playlist. Rather, Nothing Happens sounds cinematic without sacrificing substance.
A key highlight of Nothing Happens rests with the transitions between each track on the album. Almost every song flows into each other to help establish unity within the work. Each song is able to lead effortlessly into the next without losing critical momentum. Opening songs “Only Friend” and “Treacherous Doctor” are the first tracks that display the seamless transitions characteristic of Nothing Happens.
The album also features the combination of vocals between Minette and Lemasters. Certain tracks only utilize one voice as the lead, but others use each voice relatively equally. This fluctuation makes certain moments of the album feel at times confusing. It also slightly weakens the momentum set up by the fluid transitions between songs. However, both Minette and Lemasters give voice to existential lyrics while Preston accompanies with high-energy instrumental, so the band is still able to develop a poignant yet powerful atmosphere.
Tracks “Are You Bored Yet?” and “Scrawny” further develop this atmosphere but also provide a reprieve from the album’s emotional and darker introduction. Both tracks emit a vibe that’s undeniably exciting and dance-y. Specifically, “Scrawny” cuts the heaviness of the album without being a complete departure from the themes of growth and loss. The track’s chorus, “Scrawny motherf----- with a cool hairstyle ... I’m a scrawny motherf----- with a cool hairstyle” enables the band to detail insecurity without making it all consuming.
The closing of Nothing Happens is packed with substance, acting as a culmination of feeling and emitting a sense of realization. The final track “Do Not Wait” pulls the instrumentation back, simplifies the lyrics and combines both elements so that each accentuates the other. With lyrics listing issues that many young adults consider all consuming, the track is a reminder that things will be okay. It acts as the final testament of youth and serves as reassurance that survival is possible even in the midst of turmoil. It’s with this track that the band urges the listener to take their own agency into consideration.
Collectively, what Wallows has produced is an album without an agenda. It’s a body of work that can be listened to in the solitude of a bedroom or in a car with friends. It’s an influx of emotion stemming from the experiences that occur during adolescence and young adult life. But most importantly, Nothing Happens seeks to honestly explain these emotions without masking them.