Here at Sounds Like…, we love the hipster credentials that come with following a band from humble beginnings to greatness. So the release of Glasgow band Nieves’ debut album Exist and Expire is an exciting moment – it marks a big step for a band we believe is on the path to big things. Allow me to tell you why.
From the off, Nieves aren’t afraid to do things their own way. Opener ‘(You Will) Change’ is an introspective, atmospheric track that whispers in your ear for well over two minutes before bursting in to a pounding chorus which picks you up and soars among the clouds before gently setting you back down. This is a band confident in their abilities.
That self-assurance continues on title track ‘Exist and Expire’ which perfectly frames Nieves’ whole sound in just under four minutes. There are elements of fellow Scots Fatherson and Prides in the melodies and drumming – and of course in vocalist Brendan’s wonderful accent. I have a massive soft spot for singers from Scotland who aren’t afraid to let their accent shine through. Lovely stuff.
The first half of Exist and Expire all has a similar vibe to it – indie rock that flows from piano led moments of tenderness to punchy choruses. But in the second half, things get tasty.
‘Here’s To You’ starts off the same way, but soon diverts to a sound with more grit and edge. There’s more of a darkness to the guitars, a snarl to the drumming. This is something different, and it shows that Nieves aren’t just a one trick pony. They can mix it up, and do a good job of it.
On ‘Strangers Are Just People You Don’t Hate Yet’, the analogies used in the lyrical content don’t quite stick for me personally, but credit is due for what I’m confident will go down as my favourite song name of the year.
The penultimate song of the record is ‘Performing Arts’, which I think is the standout track. It melds together the smooth to epic sound of the album’s first half with the darker tone of the second half to create a delicious and moreish three minutes of musical excellence. The soaring guitars are taken up a level – we’re approaching Biffy Clyro levels now – and the driving edge is controlled by the drum patterns and sudden drops before choruses. This is the song which best exemplifies why we believe Nieves are set for the big time in the future: they make this sort of powerful song so easy to enjoy and effortless to play.
Exist and Expire is a very strong debut effort. At times it could be argued that the formula the band uses gets a little tired, but Nieves always manage to change things up in just enough time to keep you interested. Where this album will really shine though, is in venues all over the country. Right now those might be 100 capacity clubs, but Sounds Like… is willing to bet that soon enough these songs will be filling out much larger rooms.
Sounds Like… The first step to greatness