Christiansen – Stylish Nihilists

Stylish Nihilists

I would not be at all surprised if Christiansen managed to be one of the next bands to break out and gather some mainstream exposure. Ask the band if being a part of the mainstream is all that desirable and the guys might point you towards the aptly titled fifth track, “The Middle Finger.” “Wrap your arms around the volume knob / It’s like a party worth portraying / It’s the age of electronica / When you die I’ll be your DJ / And we’ll dance and scream and drink to the mainstream / Or bury your firstborn and try to get on with life.” Apparently, they couldn’t care less.
Still, Stylish Nihilists is a record worthy of some serious attention. It rocks hard enough to completely knock you over, yet it never resorts to mindless chugging and pummeling. Instead, the band is technically tight and precise, a quality that was gradually improved upon with each of Christiansen’s previous two albums. There are several elements at work here, not the least of which is the jagged post-hardcore guitar work that smacks of everyone from forefathers like Fugazi and Burning Airlines to contemporary peers like Garrison. These guitar sounds lead the way, cutting right through you with a nearly perfect blending of abrasiveness and melody. There are moments during which the listener can easily picture the guitar being pummeled mercilessly as strings snap and fingers bleed, but there are also spatterings of huge, anthematic power chords and infectiously catchy melodies. It may sound like a lot of ground to cover, but it all comes together remarkably well, and without sounding the least bit scattered.
Partnered with the guitars as the co-leader of this adventure are the excellent vocals. The majority of the singing is done in an easily decipherable and pleasant fashion, with aggressive lyrics that come off as a bit silly once or twice, but for the most part stand out as intelligent and clever. The vocals occasionally find it impossible to refrain from erupting into a shout or growl, but there is always a sense of thoughtful control, which only furthers the thought that there is some real energy and passion behind what is being said. Finally, serving as the glue that holds all of this thoroughly enjoyable and mildly chaotic noise together is the playfully tight rhythm section. The bass grooves are about as thick as they come, intricate and interesting yet easily danceable, and the same goes for the drum work, which includes everything from pummeling standard rhythms to quirky snare drum rolls and added percussion toys. There are several points at which you won’t know whether to shake your ass or head-butt the guy standing next to you, but at least you’ll be enjoying the music in the background either way.
With every album Christiansen has released, the band has taken serious strides toward something truly impressive, and so it is easy to predict that bigger and better things are in store for this band. It looks like we’ll just have to sit back and see what happens, but Stylish Nihilists is definitely another step in the right direction.