Nick Arneson, Portland based indie rocker, graces us all with a complicated look at the human experience in Restless, his first of three EPs he plans to release in 2019. Arneson calls this album “A writhing, honest answer to what I see and ask and don’t have answers to. It’s hopeful and tragic and full of stoner plight.” It is deeply personal and yet simultaneously pulls the listener into the all-too-familiar depths of insecurity and hard pasts.
“Drowned in the Night”, a place that all of us have been in our lives: lost, misunderstood, confused, and a consumed with fear; fear of the unknown, fear of what other people think. This song captures the struggle within the head, the pulls of back and forth. Arneson’s vocals are altered, drawn out and desperate. He uses his pitch as another instrument to convey his battle. It is truly eloquent.
Nick Arneson combines thoughtful melodies with unparalleled truths
This album stands apart from his previous work. There is an emphasis on the drum line which grounds the album and captivates the listener. The outro of “Drowned in the Night” demonstrates this. The riff sets you into a trance and you get this feeling in you gut like something is about to happen, and then… it ends. Is it a metaphor for the human condition? It is just damn good music? You decide.
“Restless”, the title track and gem of the album reveals the inner-workings of Arneson. Don’t let the seemingly groovy upbeat tune fool you, this “dance track” is brimming with trying the times of the past. An unmissable dichotomy that is Restless, and no doubt Arneson himself. A man confronted with the whispers of the past and chaos of today, and a single question “do we curl up and die / or fuck all and have some fun”?
The album has a steady pace from song to song. It must be intentional in the way that it builds, and then occasionally falls, exposing the poeticism in every detail of this album.
Arneson has created an album meant to entice criticism. This is not another breakup/makeup album. He takes a hard look at the world around him and choices he has made and questions them. The lyrics are not meant to be friendly, but rather relatable to the dark times we all experience. All in all, a must listen for its craft and intentional art.