Craters is the new three-song offering from Louisville quartet Nerves Junior. The EP is a modest follow-up to their 2011 full-length effort, As Bright As Your Night Light, which drew many comparisons to Radiohead from reviewers. From the explosive bridges, to the brooding, Yorke-esque lilt of Zack O’Renick’s vocals to the poise and restraint of the drums.
But Nerves Junior should not be simply cast as another ripoff. The thick synths buried in “Craters” and “Intern” are more characteristic of pop-oddballs like Pinback or even the Books. The comparison to Radiohead here is an idiom used to identify an approach to sound composition, like Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” The depth and production value on this brief release are impeccable and more calculated than Night Light. Nerves Junior demonstrate a stunning attention to detail. Judging from the involvement of this EP’s atmosphere, the group has almost certainly been studying Mr. Godrich’s soundboard.
There are a few undeniable grounds for this mention, for better or for worse. For better, the guitar is not the central operating element here. The instruments on “Goodnight Nobody” are striking but spacious, allowing live drums and programmed percussion to weave in buoyant polyrhythms. For worse, ominous layers of warbling organ make “Intern” feel like a B-side from the Amnesiac sessions.
While Nerves Junior may borrow from a lexicon familiar to most, their ideas are refreshing. The fact of the matter is, despite a cosmetic resemblance to Radiohead, the sentiments contained are ultimately different. “Always stay close to me,” O’Renick warmly beckons, trading idiosyncracy for sincerity. Hopefully their next album will, like Night Light, provide more room for the big ideas contained in these three songs. In the meantime, if that 1143rd listen of Kid A isn’t quite hitting the spot this time, maybe it’s time to try something new.