PLAYING PHILLY: Big Nothing is Back With Debut LP “Chris”

COLUMNS|Playing Philly

When Philly four-piece Big Nothing broke onto the scene back in 2017 with their self-titled 7” EP, they brought with them an impressive lineage. Guitarist Pat Graham fronted the punk trio, Spraynard, and fellow guitarist Matt Quinn played with Beach Slang’s Ed McNulty in band Crybaby. Liz Parsons played bass in NJ punk outfit Casual, and Chris Jordan (drums) hails from Gainesville, FL’s Young Livers. With that level of punk rock pedigree, it’s not shocking that their first release was well received, but with just four tracks clocking in around ten minutes total, it left fans in the Philadelphia scene wanting more.

Two years after their debut, Big Nothing has delivered. Chris, the band’s first LP, dropped May 10th, and it brings with it a heavy dose of 90’s-era indie (think: Superchunk), with laidback skate-punk vocals and the looseness of garage acts like the Replacements. What really sets Chris apart though is the piercing melancholic backdrop of the album juxtaposed against the infectious riffs that are on display in almost every song.

Big Nothing seems to have the unique ability to peer into the vast void of existence, and pull out songs that are sublimely catchy yet steeped in personal catharsis. “Being in a band is often a cheap alternative to therapy,” quips the group in their bio, and you’re inclined to believe them. As a whole, Chris is self-reflective and angsty—hurling itself toward big questions of existentialism (“If I don’t know why I’m looking/then what can I hope to find out?” rasps the album’s opening track “Waste My Time”) just as quickly as it voices more immediate frustrations (“I’m caught in a daydream about leaving here for good/Maybe if I move down to Virginia, I’ll find myself in a better mood” on “Autopilot”).

Though it grapples with understanding the looming “big nothing” that challenges our existence, the album is exceptionally big-hearted and vulnerable. It’s an accessible meditation on the human condition that speaks directly to lingering quarter-life anxieties but also has you singing along to its massive hooks—relishing in melancholy rather than being dragged down by it.

While the full album is worth a cover-to-cover listen (and with three different songwriters writing in widely different lyrical styles, you’d be cheating yourself if you tried to cherry pick), entry points to the LP include its lead single “Real Name,” featuring a bursting chorus and achingly relatable lyrics on being “seen,” and “Honey,” a track with soaring melodies and themes of externally seeking self-validation.

Listen to Chris via Bandcamp below, and follow the band on Facebook for updated tour dates if you want to see what promises to be a dynamic stage show with your own eyes.

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