Waking Nervous is the third LP for We Miss the Earth. Where their debut A New Silent Era set the foundation for their sound and their sophomore Orphans, Widows, Indeed was a collection of explorations on their capabilities, this third offering is a more refined, focused and honed-in iteration of their noise pop and post-punk identity. Songs are more compact and concentrated, with certain themes and motifs scattered all throughout this ten-track. All revolving around this idea of nervousness and unrest.
As always, the inventiveness and variety of sound design and arrangements from Chris Koza and Mistina La Fay remains top-notch. They’ve done a great job of molding the harsh and sometimes obtuse sounds of shoegaze and married them with great pop melodies. What they’ve stumbled upon is a style distinctly their own that comparison feels futile. It’s complex noise wrapped elegantly in fun, singable pop. What’s not to like?
Highlights include the densely layered “Matthew Edwards”, with its rich textures and catchy vocal melodies. A dark veneer wraps around this earworm, which is kind of what we’ve gotten to expect and love from the band. “Losers” immediately caught my attention due to its familiarity, only to realize that we’d already reviewed it’s updated version in their latest LP Memory Design. I don’t mind it though, as it’s one of those songs that’s so nice that you’d want to release it twice! This one feels more raw and gritty than its latest iteration.
Another notable thing about Waking Nervous is how weird it can get. “Ending chorus” has an eerie theremin hook that just cuts through the mix. It feels odd at first but once you get accustomed to it, it blends in and becomes the central point of the song. A perfect choice for a song about anxiety and unease. Speaking of oddballs, “Survival Dance” follows as one of my favorites with its dark rock n’ roll riff overlaid by the band’s signature gaze and topped with atmospheric howls. It’s short but moody and very fun.
The title track closes out the album with a familiar vocal tune. If you listen closely it mimics the melody of both its predecessors, namely Ending Chorus and Loser. An interesting callback from Koza that strings along these songs and their narrator’s experiences: “Waking nervous / I felt deserving of less”. It’s a cathartic release that ties this album up neatly in a bow.