It’s funny, even though Ruiner feels like it’s been a part of me since the dawn of time, it’s only been out since the 13th. Instinctively, I started digging through my bed for my phone last Friday before I was even completely awake. I somehow managed to punctuate nothing,nowhere. correctly nevertheless, leaving me to lock Apple Music, lay the speaker across my face, and contemplate calling out of work so I could enter my final form.
What follows is my meditation on my spirit journey with Ruiner over the past six days. This is by no means an objective album review, but if you’re still pulling up to Thirsty Thursday expecting one of those ya dun goofed. At best, this is going to be a highly emotional, slightly disjointed rant on how I stan nothing,nowhere. You’ve been warned.
As nothing,nowhere.’s first release on Fueled by Ramen, the loose concept album moves the story of n,n. along while retaining the facets of what makes the one-manner great. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a bit poppier in sound than Reaper (2017). What the fuck ever. Sure, it’s hard to beat the raw, abrasive attitude of Reaper tracks like “Skully” and “Black Heart.” But the atmospherics on Ruiner—produced by Jay Vee (Bones, Shinigami)—are still plenty melancholic and the subject matter is still plenty genuine. Really, those qualities are enough to attract the metal kid who I assume is probably reading this. It’s funny how certain genres have held this sort of strangle-hold reputation on depression when really, it’s becoming more apparent that sadness and self-hatred can be honestly portrayed through a variety of styles. I’m probably just echoing all of my existing analyses of everything “sad rap,” but I don’t care. This point is still worth being repeated for the purists grumbling in the back.
That being said, it seems like certain spectators always end up armchair philosophizing about the pop future of alternative or the alternative future of pop. At the risk of sounding super self-righteous, this trap and who falls into it differentiates those in the industry doing surface-level listening versus those who are really out there getting it. While I pity all of us our poor souls who fall into the latter category, really, I feel bad for the friends in the former, too. Attempts at compartmentalization are just unwarranted headaches. It’s too soon to even be able to objectively contextualize shit that’s so cutting edge. Yet, some masochist reviewers still make the focal point of their work jamming n,n. into a certain pre-existing schema that’s allegedly evolving into x, y, and z.
I’ll admit that while I was organically attracted to nothing,nowhere.’s presence as a solitary entity, I fell into a bit of an emo label trap when I first tried to put pen to paper on the topic just a little over a year ago. Shit’s nubile. Trust me—you’ll just end up frustrating yourself. You’ll be opening up too many files as each style presents itself. Pretty soon the drawer will just start jamming when you try to close it and you’re going to hate your life. Just accept that n,n. is its own animal. That mindset is how you unlock prime consumption of Ruiner.
Still, maybe I should break it down a bit more. I’m throwing around a lot of concepts and feeling like an asshole, although it can’t get much more self-important than my Reaper Double Feature. How about this: we go song by song, sprinkle in some memes, and share some memories. I’m going in and it would be neat if you came along.
A sample is never a bad way to start, especially when it’s overlaid with original instrumentals. As I mentioned in this article you should read about iconic samples, there’s no reason to re-invent the wheel if there’s already existing content out there that achieves an idea that you want to convey. Interestingly, this word/mouth taking is exactly what “Outsider” does for me. Before kids were fucking with raps about wanting to die, we still wanted to die, but didn’t really know how to articulate it. The pervasive unease of non-belonging, when you don’t understand it, is very scary. When you’re alone, on one hand, it’s better, but on the other, you’re just replaying every last stutter and jab. As a “shy guy,” I have these clear snapshots from when I was kid of not enjoying myself in situations where I should have been, from birthday parties to band camp. Especially band camp. Some boy on the bus home asked me if I wanted to stroke his trombone and I generally cried a lot. Come to think of it, some things never change, but at least I know what it is now. Now that’s a schema well-spent.
So this shit starts on the real and I already never want to hear another sound. Let me clarify—not as in I’m about to shut the entire record off, but that I want to put that atmosphere into a bottle and Crisco my way inside. I’ll crawl in, die, and then someone can throw us both in the ocean like Osama Bin Laden. I had a similar reaction to the beautiful agony in the first notes of “Houdini,” the opening track on Reaper. I just want to whimper in my aluminum foil and let the Earth Balance marinate.
“Was it really better then?” The fuck if I know, but it’s an interesting question to consider. Nostalgia has been a recurring theme in nothing,nowhere, and it seems to be developing by posing the question of whether or not our mind is really just playing some weird Mandela effect on our hearts. Lately I’ve been longing for one of the darkest periods of my life back in December when my sole form of employment was the booty club and I was waiting by the door for a dude who never came around. I guess when you have nothing, life is, in a way, better because anything good means so much more. Anyway, “Better” is good for this kind of contemplation. You know, that window gazing day dreaming kind of shit.
“Sinker” evokes a lot of EP-era nothing,nowhere in terms of guitar progression and the super melodic vocals, even in the raps. That being sad, “Sinker” is one of the best examples of where the production really shines in its next-level evolution. The recurring distorted scream sample is especially rad. Jay Vee kills it at tidying up the concept, and every time it drops it hits me in my metaphorical dick. Well-placed unclean vocals were one of my favorite aspects listening to metalcore growing up. As much as I still fuck with doom, some vocal variety is a nice change from the hypnotic monotone bellow.
True to its name, second single “Hammer” is, indeed, a banger. In addition to it being catchy as fuck, the attitude n,n. exudes in it is so infectious. My god…did he actually say something boastful? I’m here for it, especially when the success is well-deserved. Pride is further balanced out by the utter wholesomeness of Bernie Sanders/Danny Phantom references. Just wow. What a nice lad and track. 10/10.
Picking your favorite song off of Ruiner is like trying to pick your favorite child. I’m not going to come out and say which one I like the best, but wink-wink nudge-nudge. Rejecter speaks to that low-key soul-wrenching angst-malaise type of hurt. Like, everything is technically fine. An opossum didn’t break into your house and take a shit on your futon. You still have all ten acrylics on your fingers and two balls on your industrial bar. But when you lurk on the dude you love’s fiancé’s social media just to get your feelings hurt you naturally have to go stare into the levee for a while. Now that’s a force with which to be reckoned. You’ll be whimpering like the part in Lolita when Bill Nye the Science Guy tells Lana Del Rey that her mama dead. Anyway, great song.
Listening to the title track within the context of the album is a different experience than when it accompanies its visual. The video tells more of a story that stands on its own, but the track itself also serves as a nice cool down after a hot potato like “Rejecter.” It’s just a little more “yeehaw” and a little less “lay me on the interstate.” As much as I’m down for some road rage on Route 40, 11 tracks of it might actually crush my heart. Staying mindful of this kind of balance is just another example of n,n.’s artistic mastery.
After “Rejecter,” “Sayer” is probably the biggest initial standout. This one tackles another specific kind of hurt—feeling really shitty about a situation when you know that the other person is already over it and has cut you off. And, well, there’s nothing to say now. Musically, it’s just such a smash fucking hit I can only imagine that the recording process looked something like this. I’m pretty sure that’s actually Jay at 1:52.
I hope this doesn’t come off wrong, but “Waster” is like the final emotional purge. You know that killer feeling of when you’re done crying and/or throwing up and your world, just for a moment, is whole again? That’s not to say that the rest of the album is a complete Family Guy extended puke scene…fuck, you know what type of metaphor I’m throwing down just work with it.
Final Thoughts: As I sit here stewing, I’ve come to realize that the highlight of my night has been encouraging my cat to try La Croix. I thought Lil Flood would be more eager because he thinks he’s bourgie, but he was only down for a single lap. Goddamn, I am so lonely, but at least there’s nothing,nowhere. I’d rather have one good thing. Despite how people cry falling skies when their favorite artist signs to a big label, I’m pretty confident that this good thing isn’t coming to an end anytime soon.
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