From the guitar-laced fury of Juice WRLD to Olivia Rodrigo’s wailing “good 4 u,” the resurgence of rock and pop-punk in mainstream pop has been simmering for a few years now. 2021 is looking to be a watershed year for this resurgence, and nightlife should be at the forefront. Like Yves Tumor and WILLOW, nightlife is carrying on the legacy of Black rock artists while putting their own twist on the sound. Hailing from the diverse alternative scene in Baltimore, Maryland, nightlife has crafted an impressive and intentional introduction with their debut EP, New Low.
Comprised of just three tracks, New Low is a succinct and focused debut that displays the sharp sound of nightlife. Lead vocalist and producer Hansel Romero rules over the soulful arrangements with vocal performances that range from anguished belts to flirtatious falsetto. The title track, “New Low,” is a disco-tinged banger that that pulls from synth-pop in its verses before launching into raucous pop-rock in the hook. Aside from the catchy melody, what makes “New Low” so great is that it actually gives us both pop moments and rock moments. Often, people will assign the pop-rock label to any song with pronounced guitars, but “New Low” properly balances the disco synths and horns with sturdy bass guitar and drums. It’s excellent. “All I Know,” a brooding power ballad, equally borrows from the alternative R&B stylings of the late mid-2010s The Weeknd and the impassioned roar of Linkin Park. The final track on the EP, “Lonely,” sees nightlife giving their take on swaying adult contemporary pop. Their cover adds a bluesy tinge to the 2005 Rob Thomas original and underscores the breadth of their influences as well as their versatility. It’s truly impressive to hear such a fully-realized sound on a debut project, especially one that is just three songs long. Nightlife is ahead of the game.
Nightlife cites Stevie Wonder and Bring Me The Horizon as influences, and their music shows it. They’re part of a larger movement of reclaiming genres pioneered by Black folk while staying true to their alternative rock foundation. Get into nightlife sooner rather than later, you won’t regret it.
Listen to New Low here.