by Rachel Feinberg
Many associate the name Dylan Minnette with Netflix’s hit show “13 Reasons Why,” but if you’re cool you know that he’s also a musician. Minnette and childhood friends Cole Preston and Braeden Lemasters have been performing together for over a decade but only recently started releasing music as Wallows. They released their debut single “Pleaser” in 2017, and since then fans have only gotten a handful of other singles and one EP. Finally, the wait is over as Wallows have released their first full-length album, Nothing Happens.
Wallows provides a fun and easy listen on Nothing Happens. From the opening chords of the first track “Only Friend,” you can tell what the sound of the whole album will be. This could be seen as a bad thing, as no one likes listening to a repetitive album, but fortunately that’s not the case here. The band does a fantastic job of creating a cohesive sound throughout all eleven tracks, cleverly integrating each song into others, helping the album flow together smoothly.
On paper there really isn’t anything that makes Wallows special. They’re one of many indie-rock bands where young adults sing sad songs that sound happy, using music to navigate the start of adulthood and be nostalgic for their teenage years. I probably have at least twelve other albums on my phone that have the same vibe. Once you actually listen to them though, none of that matters. Their ability to take simple melodies and turn them into infectious instrumentals you can’t help but jam out to gives Wallows the edge they needed in order to stand out.
Nothing Happens is 39 minutes of feel-good music where not a single song feels out of place. Catchy tracks “Are You Bored Yet?” featuring Clairo and “Scrawny” were perfect choices for singles, setting expectations for the rest of the album to be just as good. Another highlight from Nothing Happens is “Worlds Apart”, a dreary track about a broken relationship that picks up towards the end with intense drums and then suddenly stops without warning. My personal favorites are “Remember When,” a fast-paced track that I guarantee you’ll end up nodding your head along to and “I’m Full,” a previously released song from 2014 when the group was performing as The Narwhals. While all these songs are great, none compare to “Do Not Wait.” Serving as the album’s final track, Wallows goes above and beyond in this 6-and-a-half-minute song, packing in a plethora of different sounds and some heavy emotions.
The album’s overarching themes of growing up and moving on are epitomized on “Do Not Wait”, with lyrics like “All the things you don’t wanna let go / You wanna look back on and recall / All the times that feel like everything / When nothing really happens at all” reflecting on the band’s reluctance to leave their past behind to begin a new chapter in their lives. Following the second chorus there’s also a deeply personal spoken word bridge that Minnette delivers with Lemasters singing “nothing happens” in between each line. Ultimately, the song ends with an instrumental that fades to the same guitar riff that opens the album, allowing everything to resolve itself beautifully.
It’s exciting to see a relatively new band put so much effort into their first LP and it’s even more exciting to see that effort pay off. Wallows could have played it safe on Nothing Happens by creating an album that sounded the same as their previous music. Instead, they let us know that we have yet to witness the full scope of their capabilities, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.