Nightmares for a Week – Civilian War
Record Label: Suburban Home (physical); Broken English (digital)
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Nightmares for a Week know what they’re doing. On their second-full length album, the bearded New York trio delivers 37 minutes of melodic, but gruff, punk. The band is made of Sean-Paul Pillsworth on vocals/, bass, Bill Manley on vocals/ guitar, and Steven Markota on drums.
Civilian War kicks off with the driving drumbeat of “Down in the Streets,” letting you know from the start that this is an album full of shoutalong anthems. Make no mistake though, this album certainly encapsulates a quite few different styles throughout, all done very well. “Red Eyes” and “Cancer Kills” are folkier sounding songs, with the former being one of the best on the record; “Vet” is a somber ballad about “those fire-eyed boys getting high in the backroom” (if I flooded out your house…); “The Destroyers” is a fast-paced punk song. Civilian War’s highpoint, however, is none of these, but the infectious, AM Taxi-esque “Let’s Talk about Healing.” The penultimate track is probably the poppiest on the album, not that that’s a bad thing, though obviously. The song begins with a cool introduction that reminds me of the first few seconds of Braid’s “First Day Back.” (The rest of the song doesn’t though. This band doesn’t sound like Braid.) Following this is a declaration of the album’s central theme, “I think it’s funny, I reminisce about my early twenties.” Lyrically, the album focuses a lot on nostalgia (as noted), drinking, and just enjoying your life.
Pillsworth and Manley trade off vocals often throughout the album. That’s pretty cool, because Pillsworth has a rougher voice, while Manley has a more accessible vocal approach. Also, despite only being three people, the band has a very full sound, often with Markota as the star of the song.
Not to say the album has no flaws, but every album has its flaws (except The Ugly Organ). Some may find the incessant shouting of “We’re all dead men here after all” in “Dead Men” to be somewhat irritating, and Pillsworth's vocals in the song are somewhat grating. “Vet,” despite being a highlight, is awkwardly placed between two of the album’s faster paced songs, “Red Eyes” and “The Destroyers.” The song is the slowest and quietest featured on Civilian War, and could have easily fit as closer.
Civilian War is a great punk album, and will probably prove one of my favorites of the year. There’s not a song on here that doesn’t fit despite the diversity in sound; there’s not a song I would consider filler. Some (“Let’s Talk about Healing,” “Red Eyes,” “We’ll Do Our Worst, Lord”) are better than others, but in general it’s just a really good, really fun record.