Album review: 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' by Nothing More
Better Noise Records

One of the best parts of our job here at AXS is getting to review new albums before their release. There is nothing better than getting your hands on the latest album from a favorite band. Such is the case with the San Antonio-based alternative rockers Nothing More who will be dropping their highly-anticipated full-length album, The Stories We Tell Ourselves, on Sept.15 through Better Noise Records. The new LP is available for pre-order via Pledge Music

Upon first (second, third, and fourth) listens of the sophomore LP, one thing is abundantly clear; Nothing More has produced an introspective journey of epic proportions. Showcasing Nothing More’s highly evolved, and innovative sound, The Stories We Tell Ourselves effortlessly combine elements of hardcore with progressive metal, even a touch of pop, creating a sound uniquely theirs. 

Masters at fusing their musical vision together, frontman Jonny Hawkins and his bandmates Mark Vollelunga (guitar), Daniel Oliver (bass), and Ben Anderson (drums), conceptualized the album as a way to explore the disconnect between the stories we tell ourselves about reality, and reality itself; hence the album title.

Attempting to break the mold and achieve a higher purpose, Nothing More embraces music to lay open the story of human emotions. Not only do they accomplish that ambitious objective, but they also happened to write amazing songs in the process. The foursome, co-creating at its finest, shared production duties, utilizing the creative time available during the endless hours on the road to write, produce and record the songs slated for the future LP.

Believing in the cathartic power of music, Hawkins, through his self-healing relatable lyrics, promotes the theme of looking within oneself for the strength to move through life positively; to remain grounded in the face of life’s many challenges. “Making this album helped me stay tethered to reality as I navigated through challenges in my personal life. I believe it will do the same for others,” shared Hawkins in a press release. 

You might think to bring forward such a vast array of emotions in an album marked with such deliberate intentions and intensity could be overwhelming, not in this case; sometimes out of personal difficulties and strife comes understanding.

Hawkins opens The Stories We Tell Ourselves with "Do you really want it," a compelling track that expresses "everybody wants to change the world, no one ever wants to change themselves," setting the tone for an album of self-discovery and hope; hope, that through self-discovery, you might find the ability not only to change the world but to create a better reality for yourself.

"Ripping Me Apart” is far and away one of the preeminent tracks on the album. If you want to know what it sounds like to hear the world burn, this is the song to satisfy such curiosity. The guitar sets the tone quite literally for the song, setting up Hawkins for a vocal performance that is eerily reminiscent of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell. Gritty, passionate with a touch of fury thrown in. The musicianship is as tight as it could be, the guitars and drums ooze of aggression and rage, dancing together in perfect harmony. This will for sure be a great performance song that will have the crowd pumping their fists in the air and banging their heads.

"Still In Love” is that perfect arena rock ballad that will hit home with anyone that's been in a failed relationship (pretty much all of us). Songs always resonate when the listener can tell that the subject matter is relevant to the songwriter/vocalist and that’s why this song works so well. Uptempo with heartfelt lyrics, you can hear the anguish not only in the lyrics but in the raw emotion Hawkins puts into his astonishing, dynamic vocals. 

The Lyrics, “Are we looking at forever? 'Cause I don't see it in your eyes. Have you had enough or do we try again? The glass was half full when we stopped pouring in,” from the song, “Just Say When” shed light on how difficult it is to decide whether or not to end a love relationship and the overwhelming sadness that ensues when you realize it’s time to go. The acoustic guitar surprise is a beautiful song with the addition of a gorgeous string arrangement. Speaking of arrangement, each of the 18 tracks is in the perfect spot. The albums’ track sequence kicks off by socking you in the stomach, followed by some much-needed relief to allow your senses a break, only to finish off by slapping you in the face and kicking you in the stomach at the same time. The ironic thing, you'll only wish there was more.

Another standout track, if the not the standout track on the album, is the piercing final cut “FadeInFadeOut" which grips you with the same emotions felt on a track called "God Went North” from the band’s 2014 breakout self-titled album. Both songs confront life, getting older, and losing those we love dearest; a bittersweet way to end the album, capturing the daunting feeling of loss, and, at the same time, the desire to move forward with life; the perfect encapsulation of The Stories We Tell Ourselves.

British philosopher Alan Watts makes a return visit to The Stories We Tell Ourselves, continuing his thought-provoking and insightful spoken word interludes interweaved as seamless transitions between song tracks; all the while remaining faithful to the album.

Nothing More delivers a wealth of declarative hits that will inevitably resonate with their listeners. In a world of streaming, playlists, singles, videos, clips, and highlights, do yourself a favor, on Sept. 15, sit down with The Stories We Tell Ourselves and listen to how an album was meant to be heard; from beginning to end.  

Nothing More will be headlining the North American 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves Tour 2017’ with post-hardcore band Palisades, heavy metal band My Ticket Home, and the Vista rock band Hell or Highwater starting Sept. 12, 2017. Boston, Nashville, Memphis, Kansas City, Denver, Calgary, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles are included in the 34 stops. The tour will finish in the band’s hometown of San Antonio on Nov. 10. Check out the complete list of cities and dates for the fall run here. Select tickets are available right here on AXS.

For more information on Nothing More, visit the band's official website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves track listing:

1. (Ambition; Destruction)
2. “Do You Really Want It”
3. (Convict; Divide)
4. "Let 'em Burn"
5. “Ripping Me Apart”
6. "Don't Stop"
7. “Funny Little Creatures”
8. (React; Respond)
9. “The Great Divorce”
10. “Still In Love”
11. (Alone; Together)
12. “Go To War" (over 1.2 million views to date)
13. “Just Say When
14. (Accept; Disconnect)
15. “Who We Are
16. “Tunnels”
17. (End; Begin)
18. "FadeInFadeOut"

AXS Rating: 5/5