Nodzzz, out of San
Francisco, makes jangly, joyful one- and two-minute
songs about any damned thing, evoking the jittery propulsion of early Feelies,
the willful naivete of Beat Happening. Their 2008 single “I Don’t Wanna (Smoke
Marijuana)” – possibly the best song ever about not using drugs – was an addiction in itself, the kind of song you
want to hear immediately, right now, again, the second it finishes.
band’s second album , is full of spiked and sweetened songs, anthems as
artfully put together as they are casually tossed off. Instrumentation is basic.
Staccato guitar lines stab and stutter, run amok on off-kilter riffs then
scrabble back to strummy pop structures. Skeletal bash and pop drumming keep things
moving. The whole enterprise is
ramshackle, jerry-rigged, with lots of white space showing through the jangly
Euphoria comes from the melodies, shouted in unison or
wheedled in Anthony Atlas’ wandering tenor, and from the words, which seem
off-hand but are actually carefully chosen. That’s important, because these
songs make their points economically, almost always in under two minutes and
sometimes close to one. “Fear of Advice,” is the disc’s epic, plotting out
Buddhist detachment, professor-student romance and early-20s job doldrums in a series of vignettes connected by loosely
strung guitar interludes. Its duration? 2 minutes 12 seconds. “Time (What’s It
Going to Do?)” is even more concise. It ramps up an indifferently tuned but
anthemic chorus and intimations of mortality in the time it takes some bands to
finish an instrumental intro.
Atlas and his songwriting partner Sean Paul Presley are good
at turning the mundane into the universal, in brief, explosive tunes that find
meaning in the everyday. “Always Make Your Bed,” for instance, is partly about
housekeeping, but also about maintaining a livable space for yourself. “True to
Life,” a slightly different version from last year’s single, is both a very
catchy recap of drawing class wisdom (“If you must make a picture/it should
be…true to life”), and a meditation on making art of any kind.
Nodzzz’s Innings is a simple pleasure on its surface, with enough friction and complexity to
make it worth repeat listens.
to Life,” “Time (What’s It Going to Do?)” JENNIFER KELLY