Nothing in Writing – New Lives for Rent


I love when a new album pops up unexpectedly.  I had no idea that the Nothing in Writing debut was coming until a couple weeks ago, and I felt the need to write about it immediately.  The album is called New Lives for Rent and it released on August 5th.

Nothing in Writing is a band from Washington State, USA.  The lineup is just a duo, being Sean Thompson on guitar, bass, keys, and vocals, and Dan Blackson on drums and vocals.  You may recognize Sean from the progressive metal outfit Odd Logic, a band with a fantastic discography.

This is not a progressive metal album, however.  They actually label themselves as rock and neo-progressive rock.  Here’s the thing: I don’t normally like to use the term “neo-prog” because some bands take offense to it, but if a band labels themselves that way, they are trying to communicate something.  This is hyper-melodic progressive rock, through and through. 

Now, this album isn’t anything fancy, I’ll admit.  You won’t hear an eclectic mix of genres or anything like that.  However, what it does, it does extremely well.  This is an album full of fantastic vocal hooks powered by Sean’s superb voice.  This is an album of heavy rock guitars that are mixed really well and have just the right amount of edge.  This is an album of hefty drums, commanding bass, and some incredibly good keyboards, especially solos.  Some have compared the music to Enchant, and that is probably a good evaluation, but I like this much better, honestly.

One thing I’ve noted is the lyrical content.  I really like what I’ve deciphered thus far.  The band sets the stage on their Bandcamp with a quote from Kazuo Ishiguro that says, “There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one”.   The album title “New Lives for Rent” also sets that tone.  As I see it, the overall message here is that we cannot live our lives dreaming of the life we could have had, whether that would have been through being born somewhere else or maybe if we had made different decisions at various times.  No, we have to live the life we have, here and now.  That is the only way to find happiness.  As an aside, that also reminds me of the fantastic film Everything Everywhere All at Once, as it had the same message.

Let’s talk about the songs—and this is certainly an album of great songs.  Right from the opener “New Life”, the choruses are engaging and the rock energy is palpable.  I especially love the chorus on this song because it sounds like an Odd Logic melody in a new setting.  I like “Roads Below” and “The Getaway”, the next two tracks, as they have plenty of fetching guitar work, especially the latter. Both are great.

For my money, tracks 5 through 10 are all incredibly strong.  “Virtual Fall” and “Home Again” are a pair that I feel go together well.  The former is my favorite on the album, being a softer and quite 90s sort of ballad that is simply infectious and beautiful.  I love singing along with it.  The latter is a more complicated track with various highlight moments, but it really brings it in the second half with a fantastic instrumental.  Those two tracks hit me so hard.

CDs will be available soon.

“The Last Goodbye”, “Moment in Time”, and “Still Believe” come next, and they are all winners.  “The Last Goodbye” has yet another addictive chorus, and the whole song is just so damned attractive.  “Moment in Time” and “Still Believe” are perhaps a little less catchy, but still superb.  They both have invention and nostalgia laced through their runtimes.  I like the grooves and headbanging rhythms that these two have.

The last couple songs on the album are two more favorites.  “Alien Sky Limits” is fully instrumental, and, I must say, it’s pretty heavy, too.  The guitars here border on metal at times, and the keys keep them fully in melodic check.  This might be one of the most amazing instrumental tracks I’ve heard in a long time.  It’s just so fun to hear.  The closer is “Here and Alive”.  This song packs the lyrical punch, so to speak.  It is such an atmospheric, positive song, one that truly feels encouraging; I mean, I actually feel reinvigorated when finishing this record.  This track has some truly golden guitarwork near the end and just feels so airy and light.  I absolutely love it.

Nothing in Writing came out of nowhere.  I knew Sean was busy, but I didn’t know anything was close to completion. This record is a complete surprise then, not just in timing, but also in how strong it is.  I can’t stop listening to it, honestly, and I feel like I’m going to be listening to it a ton the rest of this year.  Keep in mind, as a side note, that the CD shipment had a defect, so CDs are not available yet.  They will be soon, though.  I know I want one myself.

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