If you’ve been keeping an eye on the contemporary UK alt scene for a while now you’ve probably already spotted the name Nervus popping up all over the shop. From touring with the emo darlings in Creeper all the way to signing to the illustrious label that is Big Scary Monsters, the act seem to be enjoying the spoils of a blossoming career, one that is completely deserved considering their history. Whilst it was unanimously celebrated within certain circles upon it’s release, the material within their debut, Permanent Rainbow, was never intended to be distributed. In fact, it predominately served as a cathartic outlet for openly transgender front woman Em Foster. With its authentic documentation on the issues Em faced whilst suffering with gender dysphoria and addiction, the record served as a crucial source of solace and empowerment for those facing similar issues. It’s an element of their art Nervus take pride in and their sophomore record, Everything Dies, excels in excelling this warmth.
With the opening track ‘Congratulations’ documenting the pre-existing outdated social expectations surrounding an individual prior to their birth, the album loosely touches upon the theme of birth, life and death. The term ‘concept album’ may be too restrictive and rigid to be applied here, but the general conscious here is one of self-acceptance, confronting social prejudices and documenting the issues the LGBT+ community face. It’s an advancement of the lyrical themes present on their debut, one that feels more bolstered and flexible without substituting the impactful and authentic emotion found within their debut. It’s a highly emotive and enticing listen message wise; there’s a palpable sense of deliverance within this record just feels so therapeutic and absorbing. Every line and stanza Em delivers rouses a powerful sense of authenticity and truthfulness. It’s the result of an individual who is proud to wear their heart on their sleeve, laying bare to the deeply personal tribulations and battles that have shaped them to be who they are today.
Much like Permanent Rainbow, many will find solace and empowerment within this artful journey. In relation to their debut, an attractive DIY and homegrown aesthetic was prevalent. Thankfully, Nervus have retained this element, going as far to record the majority of the album in a bedroom to ensure such grit is evident. The act have seem to have mastered the art of DIY recording, with the overall sound feeling much more reinforced when contrasted against the material from their previous outings.
It’s bristling with a level of polish and dedicated care but never sounding too aesthetically clean or washed. In an age where many acts within the alt scene are consciously creating work as sonically glistening as possible, it’s fantastic to see a continuation to the movement of artists retaining their sonic roots. This element also further resonates the themes found within the tracks. After all, it’s easier on a personal level to relate to musicians passionately creating material in a homestead in contrast to artists cooped up in a recording studio for the entirety of the recording process.
Whilst there’s a lot of coverage on the ideological concepts within this record, none of it would be viable without musical genius and talent. It’s reminiscent of the acts prevalent within their respective genre, but there’s an unprecedented amount of creativity and individualism here. From the growling riffs of ‘Nobody Looses’ and ‘Way Back’, the welcoming piano overlays present to the navel-staring whines of ‘Medicine’, Everything Dies is an album as creative and branching as it is approachable. Honestly, with just 2 albums behind them, Nervus have undoubtedly established their own distinguishable sound with relative ease. No easy feat for any artist.
In all, Everything Dies is a record that you’re going to hear a lot about these coming months, and for good reason. Comforting, passionate, inviting and musically fantastic, it’s destined to be a source of comfort and empowerment for a community and culture that needs to be further represented in mainstream society. With content as such as this, the alternative LGBT+ scene is being represented as best as it can.