Nerves Junior’s name offers the likely unintentional implication that the Louisville, Ky., band is an aesthetic descendent to ’70s power-pop band The Nerves, but the ambition runs much higher than that on debut album As Bright As Your Night Light. In the album’s first song, “Champagne & Peaches,” the band channels the highbrow space rock of OK Computer-era Radiohead and epic earnestness of Joshua Tree-era U2 in one magnificently heroic anthem. Many bands have attempted and failed similarly lofty ideals, and others, like Coldplay, continually clamor to catch up. But Nerves Junior’s attempt, a little scruffier and eerier than either band’s past anthems, succeeds through a unique take on atmospheric, experimental rock.
As soaring a beginning there is to As Bright As Your Night Light, the band slowly descends into more abrasive and atmospheric territory, often recalling a more electronics-heavy Deerhunter. The band kicks up spooky squalls of delay-laden guitar and sputtering electronic effects on “Swimmers Ear,” an immediate highlight that never substitutes sonic trinkets for strong melodies. The band blends a hypnotic dub atmosphere with vicious post-punk guitars on the outstanding “Nails to Scratch With.” And the stark, gloomy dirge “In Absentia” channels early Cure at the band’s most sinister, ascending from near silence to a dreamy, swirling haze of guitars and spectral vocals.
As Bright As Your Night Light is an album that seems to grow darker and ever so creepy with each track. In that respect, the title seems to be a fairly accurate description of the haunted, late night quality at which the band excels. Nerves Junior may very well have listened to their share of U2 and Radiohead, but the nocturnal post-punk albums in their collections seem to have made a larger impact on their sound on the whole, and that’s resulted in a very cool and satisfyingly ominous first album.
Stream: Nerves Junior – “Swimmers Ear”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.