Bored Nothing - Bored Nothing
Blurry slackerwave king Fergus Miller, aka Bored Nothing, has been whiling away his time crafting fuzzy snippets of dream-pop and shoegaze grunge in his Melbourne bedroom with a 4-track, perfectly exemplifying the bedroom artiste ethic by lobbing cassettes into the ether. This new eponymous album collates some of his EP hits, and adds a dollop of unreleased material for good measure. His love of late 80s/90s FX-merchants is obvious and Miller's influences are worn on on his sleeve: The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Elliot Smith, Pavement and Heatmiser all make appearances, even if just a brief peek.
'Shit For Brains' opens the LP, recalling Yuck's foggy indie-rock with hazy hooks and visceral lyrics with apathetic delivery: "And it's hard for me to say that we've all got shit for brains." It's got semi-surf licks and thick bass clipping as it plods along. Dream-pop 'Popcorn' features guitars drenched in reverb and a rhythm section that hints at punk. It's sparse in instrumentation, but Miller sculpts a hearty wedge of musky pop that's equal parts pure noise and meticulous detail. 'Bliss' is a chunk of lo-fi glamour with a summery tone and jangly guitars. It waltzes and limps through the speakers and tidal synths lurk in the background as twangy axes frolic. 'Snacks' is late 90s post-grunge slathered in pedalboard effects, with glimmers of pop chirpiness. Miller's vocals spiral and fade amongst the lakes of reverb, obscured by his own love of layers.
It's lo-fi, not because of the chic factor, but because he only has one microphone and basic equipment – if it sounds like it's been chewed up by less-than-perfect equipment, that's probably because it has. He's admitted to using second-hand cassettes and only owns one pedal, so "overdubs all kind of end up all swirling around each other." That use of thrifty hardware gives his music a raw, natural feel, unscathed by bulging pursestrings and not tacked on in the post-production. It's an honest account of bespoke compositions, handmade with imperfections in fidelity for a gritty tone that swallows you whole. This is a record crammed with walls of noise.
'I Wish You Were Dead' is home to great, melodic riffs and sinister vocals. It won't strike you as a particularly lyrically subtle cut, but the overbearing menace is a welcome break from the unending passivity. At times, the record feels so numb and emotionless (well, at least Miller's vocals do) that when something with bite comes along, it's even stronger in contrast. The entire record is opiate-laced, warm to bask in and pleasantly tingly, but it leaves you feeling drained and indifferent. 'Darcy' is aging noise-rock, with twinges of anger seeping through – it's the closest he comes to an outburst on the record, and stands out for that reason.
Sometimes Bored Nothing is fatiguing, but more often than not, it is a thoroughly enjoyable listen – there are just enough moments that careen in an opposite direction to stop everything melting together in a sappy pot of beige goo. A lot of the songs convey his inspirations with ease, like MBV in the walls of noise and Elliot Smith in Miller's delicate vocals. For what he's actually got to work with, he's made something MacGyver-esque, using the bare minimum to create these magnificent sounds. It's a decent album, with more pros than cons – but there are still cons. Easily fixable ones though, and by the time the next full-length arrives, they'll undoubtedly be ironed out.