DS Album Review: Noise Brigade – “The Mess Inside Of Me”

To say that I’ve been following this band for a while would be an understatement. Once upon a time, I was a drummer for an awful pop-punk band from Anchorage, Alaska fronted by Noise Brigade’s own vocalist/guitarist Nathan Nelson. I had a breakdown in a random Qdoba and broke up the band, but luckily Nathan found Noise Brigade. More than a decade later, rehoming from Anchorage to Portland, several lineup changes, and departing from their label, this band has put themselves back out there independently with The Mess Inside Of Me and emotional expression is at the forefront.

The EP opens with the single “Fiberglass” which showcases everything I love about this band. The guitar riffs and chugs into the verse, Doug’s lyrics providing a landscape for Nathan’s chorus, everything coming together to form the conceptual fiberglass that chokes the song’s narrator with emotion. Lines like “I still turn my head at the scent of your perfume” and “I’m mortified and suffering, if I see you there I back away” cover a wide swath of feelings that come with unrequited love. The song fades down to a simple repeated concept, “I wanna be with you, I wanna be with you, there’s nothing I can do.”

“Jackie” showcases a dynamic build to a chorus that reveals the EP’s name, “Figure out all our wants and needs cause you clean the mess inside of me”. The song plays out like a lullaby with earworm guitar/synth riffs that fades out into my favorite track “Panic Bloom” which kicks in aggressively. The song is quickly tempered by the soft lilt of Doug’s vocals over twinkly guitars but by the chorus we’re “getting the message loud and clear” as the lyrics suggest. The bridge goes hard, starting as a whisper we hear, “I’ll fuck up my own life, I’ll fuck up” as it builds to a shredding scream before giving way to the chorus one last time.

As the sound of a calm indie-emo intro washes over you as if from a distant radio we get “Asteroid Blues” which blows in like a cold breeze. The chorus laments, softly and almost child-like, about a wound that we’re not sure ever heals, “I scrape my knees, pulling rocks out of my hands and let it bleed, cover up the wound and set me free.” This song makes me feel like a kid again, whether it’s from the lyrics making me feel like I’m hiding something from my parents or the reverby noodling something about this song is doing it for me.

What do you really expect from someone when you ask, “How’s it goin’?” We get “Cope”, a track of the two singers comforting one another over their shared feelings of isolation, failure, and former glory. This song verbalizes the intense imposter syndrome that can grow in your mind, “How did we get here, how do we get out, does anybody want me around?” and these thoughts can grow if you’re a mess inside, very thematically relevant. Anyone who has been in a band long enough will feel the lines “I wanna be on top of the world again, I wanna feel like I’m worth it to all my friends”.

The closing track “Same Pain” echoes the emotional sentiments of the entire EP. Despite the mental anguish of where you’ve been, it’s nicer to have people around you that share the same pain. “Don’t tell me it’s not over, don’t take away my hope, I wanna feel the sunshine, I wanna know, I wanna know I’m not alone.” The song closes instrumentally after an anthemic swell and I wish there was more, but that’s probably a good thing. This collection of songs doesn’t overstay its welcome: it’s emotionally poignant and showcases everything I love about this band. If you’re absolutely hurting for more Noise Brigade, don’t worry, not only do they have a decent catalog, but the two singers have started up a podcast detailing their musical history and all the growing pains of a working band called “Mustard In A Ketchup Packet: Stories From A Band That Tried”.

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