by Ony Ratsimbaharison
Nocturnal Habits reunites Justin Trosper and Sara Lund of the seminal post hardcore band Unwound, fifteen years after their disbandment. New Skin for Old Children is a deserving continuation of their previous endeavors, with Nocturnal Habits giving us the perfect blend of the old and the new. Beyond Unwound’s almost cult following, New Skin for Old Children, released October 28 on Glacial Pace Records, is good enough to garner its own assemblage of dedicated fans. Dale Crover (Melvins), Sherry Fraser, and Scott Seckington (Two Ton Boa) join Trosper and Lund on the record. Whether you consider yourself an old fan, or not, this album will make you dream of other worlds.
“Echophilia,” the opening track, ascends us into the new and dissonant world of New Skin, presenting a familiarity past fans will appreciate, but also compelling them to acknowledge the new direction as equally innovative. Trosper’s voice is mimicked at a higher octave by Fraser’s, giving the song and their sound even more depth. Their single, “Good Grief,” has the familiar brilliance in repetition we’ve seen from Unwound, with almost haunting vocals throughout the song. It’s both heavy and eerily submissive, with an unsettling piano melody invoking a sense of dismal harmony. The songs “Wall of Early Morning Light,” and “Sketchbook,” serve as interludes between the noisier parts of the album, giving us more instrumental layers and an appreciation for the complexity that exists in even the smaller things.
Although I do love the hard-hitting angular sounds of Unwound, there is a sense of maturation in Nocturnal Habits’ songs. They replaced the sharp cuts with heavier blows, making the songs feel more like an experience. It’s also clear that the album took some time to make and it was, in fact, recorded in various places around the U.S. as well as Italy. Many different instruments are featured throughout the album, interplaying with the ambient noise and droning guitars, including the piano, synths, cello, and layers of acoustic and electronic strings. There are even the animal sounds of birds chirping and dogs barking.
The album steadily grows on you after multiple listens. The songs embody the contemplation and wonder of a wandering soul. It’s an album to listen to while you’re staring at the moon wondering why we’re here in the first place. Overall, it’s an album that can offer a bit of solace in the ever-increasing absurdity of today.