ALBUM REVIEW: Do Nothing - Snake Sideways
A decent debut album frustrated by frequent incoherence in its composition
It’s been a long time since Nottingham four-piece, Do Nothing, brought out their debut single, ‘Handshakes’ in 2018 up until the release of their debut album, Snake Sideways, which is out on Friday (30 June).
In that time, they have released two EPs and a smattering of singles, earning plaudits for their arch post-punk efforts. What’s clear listening to Snake Sideways is just how different they sound compared to earlier efforts.
Frontman, Chris Bailey’s vocals are still as strong as ever, with a supporting cast of guitarist, Kasper Sandstrom, bassist, Charlie Howarth, and drummer, Andy Harrison, providing plenty of engaging hooks but the cheek and wittiness of the lyrical content is virtually absent, replaced by a more world-weary lament.
Bailey suffered writer’s block in coming up with the lyrics for Snake Sideways and, sadly, that struggle is mirrored in some fairly incoherent compositions.
In pretty much every song, there are moments and sections which sparkle, but maintaining this to create memorable tunes is one of the biggest failings of the record – one which promises so much based on their previous releases.
That’s not to say it’s a bad album – quite the opposite – but it’s telling that the three best tracks on the 10-song LP are the ones which play it relatively straight.
Photo credit: Ollo Weguelin
Most recent single and album opener, ‘Nerve’, sets the scene for much of what’s to follow, beginning with Bailey singing ‘they’re gonna fire you in the morning’ over Sandstrom’s languid guitar. The uncomfortableness shining through Bailey’s chorus sees him deliver a punchy chorus of ‘what did you just call me, where’d you get the nerve, I’m sorry, I guess I’ll never learn’. The critical tone of the lyrics are fairly ever-present throughout but the song is perfectly judged.
The other two highlights come from the final trio of songs in ‘Amoeba’ and ‘Sunshine State’ – the former big on catchy, atmospheric guitar soundscapes, with the latter the most conventional and briefest song on the record about America’s response to the AIDS crisis. ‘Sunshine State’ sees out Snake Sideways and, with its biting lyrics and indie stylings, has you wondering what kind of record could be made more in this vein.
Lead single, ‘Happy Feet’, appropriately has a dance-y verse and sees Bailey’s vocals soar; ‘Fine’ is a song about gambling which descends into a certain aural madness befitting of an addictive spiral; ‘Ivy’ is the cheeriest song of the 10, with hopeful lyrics and upbeat guitar; and ‘Hollywood Learn’ is full of complex arrangements culminating in Wilds Beasts-style vocals over guitar similar in feeling to The Murder Capital.
There are plenty of catchy moments in ‘The Needle’, particularly with its Primary Colours-esque guitar soundscapes and ‘Moving Target’s dramatic bridge after the second chorus which signals the end of the song is compelling.
There are great moments in all nine of the songs mentioned which vary in length, with most veering off course for just as long within them. This lack of focus is summed up best in the title track, which is third in the tracklist and is a rambling mess. It’s the only song without salvation at any point and a head-scratcher for its inclusion, let alone the inspiration for the album title.
Album-era Do Nothing sees the band discard the quirkiness of previous efforts and it’s a good fit when it works, but too often the remnants of a good idea flicker all too briefly. The four-piece are clearly capable of producing a great album; their first effort is merely decent.
Snake Sideways is out this Friday (30 June) via The Orchard