Review by Shannon Shumaker
Mark my words: Too Close To Touch are going to be huge. By the time that Nerve Endings, their debut full-length album on Epitaph Records, really kicks in with the second track, “Pretty Little Thing,” it’s obvious how much talent this group has. I try to avoid comparing bands to one another, but if I had to, Nerve Endings sounds like if you took all of the best parts of Dance Gavin Dance, Sleeping With Sirens and The Word Alive and mixed them all together. This album is full of catchy guitar hooks, melodic choruses and an intensity that is hard to find elsewhere, and the final product is incredible.
While the beginning of the first track, “Someday,” sounds almost generic - like any other post-hardcore intro song - it only takes a few seconds before the soon to be trademark Too Close To Touch sound comes in and takes over and blows your mind. “Pretty Little Thing” is where they really shine, though, with a beautiful clean chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head. The vocals throughout the entirety of “Pretty Little Thing” are strong as well. The following track, “Perfect World,” showcases the band’s versatility amazingly in just the first few seconds, going from slow, melodic vocals straight into a heavier guitar part laced with keyboard without missing a beat. There’s an intensity to the slower parts of “Perfect World” that hit like a punch, making it one of the strongest songs on the album.
Two songs later, “The Chase,” featuring Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens) is the perfect example of how to incorporate a high profile guest vocalist into a song without setting it apart from the pack too much. The sound of the song is no different than the rest of the album, and Quinn sings on parts that suit his voice well, but he certainly doesn't outshine the rest of the band, which I find can frequently happen on songs with guest vocal parts. The only complaint I have with “The Chase” is that in some of the vocal parts, it’s hard to understand because of how quiet they are and how much is going on with the guitar work. But that being said, the guitar work is really strong in this song. The following title track, while slower, is definitely the most emotionally charged and hardest hitting songs on Nerve Endings. The vocals are raw and half screamed for the majority of the song, and the structure of the song is really great, too - it has its highs and lows and seems to ebb and flow naturally.
The thing that makes Nerve Endings so strong is the way that the album just seems to get better and better with each song. For instance, just when you think things can’t get better after the title track, “Restless” comes in with an incredibly catchy chorus and proves you wrong. The group vocals throughout the song really add another level to it, as well. The following song, “Hell To Pay,” featuring Telle Smith of The Word Alive is another high point on the album. One of the most lyrically charged songs on the album, “Hell To Pay” tells the story of an absent father, and it’s impossible not to feel moved by the emotion in Keaton Pierce’s vocals alongside Smith’s vocal work. Again, the guest vocal spot isn’t overdone and simply adds more to the song, rather than taking away from the band.
Following the high energy and emotional “Hell To Pay,” is “The Air In Me,” which hosts some of the strongest vocal work on the album, “Sinking So Long,” with some gorgeous guitar work, and the huge final track, “Until I Collapse.” From beginning to end Nerve Endings packs a punch that many albums don’t. There’s something for everyone in this album, from the more lyrically charged songs, to catchy guitar work and beautiful, melodic choruses. Even in the slower songs, there’s an urgency and intensity to To Close To Touch’s sound that is hard to find elsewhere, making it impossible not to get lost in this album.
Listen to "Hell To Pay"