American Nightmare - Background Music
Record Label: Equal Vision
Release Date: June 12, 2001
You may know them as Give Up The Ghost, or the band whose frontman nearly sued Fallout Boy for lyric copyright infringment. For the rest of us who have treaded the beaten path of hardcore, we knew them as American Nightmare, when multicolor ship tattoos were all the rage. And, when headwalking defined the ideological bandstand upon which one shouted “one, two, fuck you!”
Beyond the thicket of genre compartmentalization and away from cross-labeling cacophony, we find a refreshing approach in Background Music. As the successor to The Sun Isn’t Getting Any Brighter EP, this full-length debut rehashes the song “There’s A Black Hole In The Shadow Of The Pru” to fill out cleaner production and a tighter sound. Such a placeholder comes with a heavy price, however, in the form of a reality check into the depths of emotional corrosion.
Sullenness is conditional to the balancing act of emotions vocalist Wes Eisold plunges himself and daring fans into headfirst. The anthemic track “AM/PM” neither adheres to hardcore militant rhetoric nor prances around in cutesy rhyme phrases. Rather, it’s an outburst of exasperations that Eisold shrilly spews with heart-wrenching grace. So it’s no wonder why parts like “just hang your head, just close your eyes, just hide your heart. I believe that when I'm gone my love will live in song,” ring with the familiar bells of solitude ala Ian Curtis or Morrissey.
A chilling effect pervades “Shoplifting In A Ghostown” with an intro that serves as suspenseful backdrop to energetic punk at time-defying speed. It is here we become acquainted with the psyche of Eisold, who fires, “Since February 79' I've O.D.'ed on ‘lonesome’ 22 times”, like an immediate jolt to the brain against thunderous drumbeats and hard-hitting melodic guitar riffs. “Your Arsonist”, “Farewell, and “Hearts” are also among the bullets of bittersweet emotion that ricochet across 11 monumental tracks.
For being a Boston-bred hardcore band featuring ex-Ten Yard Fight’s Tim Cossar, there are no tongue-in-cheek football anthems for straight-edgers to kick field goals to here. So say goodnight to all the playful, lighthearted parodies that brought out the positivity in you. Because the term “background music” has become a parallelism to the darkly deranged, honest architecture A/N have crafted to perfection.
Unlike those who strive to emulate him, Eisold stands clear of formulaic wordplay. He has mastered a soul-driven prose that can turn graveyard skeletons into diamonds in the rough, and every line is a memorable catchphrase. That said, be prepared to be taken through hell and back across a dystopian battlefield that will require a few sessions of remedial therapy. Because after a thorough treatment is done, you’ll need some background music for those silent, sleepless nights.