This past Friday, London quartet Nightlife released their long-awaited debut album – ‘Salt & Acid’. Since forming in 2012, they have delivered a couple of EPs all the while going through the occasional line-up change. Nevertheless, ‘Salt & Acid’ sees the settled band with a refined sound based around catchy hooks and grunge-tinged riffs, with a punk-ish attitude thrown in for good measure.
The end result is a collection of edgy-yet-harmonious songs that worm their way into your subconsciousness. However, beyond all that, there is lyrical substance as Paul Fosters speaks of relatable frustrations; a rubbish day job, crap pop music, favourable bands who disappoint, and unfulfilled promises.
To gget an more insightful account of what ‘Salt & Acid’ is all about, Paul penned this very handful track-by-track especially for Already Heard.
1. Left Alone
This is about burying the hatchet. My brother and I have had disagreements in the past, but I realised one day we both have to grow up and be there for each other. Basically whether he likes it or not I’ve made a decision to support him. The line “bad habits make it a richer habitat” touches on the idea that after all the family drama we’ve been through, a colourful past is more interesting than a bland one.
This song relates to a bland office job I once had where I felt suffocated in the mundanity of the day to day grind. I saw it as some awful bus stop in the middle of Normalville, seemingly miles away from anything notable. Standing still is often worse than failure – hence the line “this purgatory I pray to bleed” – morbidly portraying death as some release for my own monotonous situation. “I’ve got way too much pride to be a lion locked inside” is a bit of a ‘tip of the hat’ to the chorus of Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’, which perfectly sums up that feeling of sedated anger.
3. Out of Your Mind
This song came about when I was listening to the radio. A song came on by One Direction (or some other similar awful band) about how they had seen a girl in a club/bar/youth club and instantly fallen for her. The lyrics were so bad I took to my notebook and maniacally pencil-ranted at the triviality. The thing that offends me most about these types of soulless chart fillers is they’re so rehashed and ungracefully pasted together, that it’s an insult to the intelligence of the people listening. Pop dribble like this will probably end up diminishing your IQ.
4. Broken Man
This is about when I signed a record deal a few years back with my old band All or Nothing, and I naively thought I had finally made it. When things with the label collapsed, the fall for me was quite far leaving me a bit broken for a while. At the time it felt like that was my last big opportunity gone to waste – “crippling weight of a heavy heartbeat that floods the brakes/breaks I never caught”. I think ultimately the whole experience was character building and if I could go back I wouldn’t change it.
This is about losing patience with a person who would rather treat you as an emotional punching bag than a friend/partner. You know the type, biting your head off for the most insignificant things. It’s about cutting ties with a resentful person that “seemed so sweet when you came my way”.
This song is about having respect for a musician/artist who used to write songs you loved, but who has now ‘diluted’ their sound to cater for a bigger audience and in turn lost the edge that first drew you to them. It’s also a little bit about how it sometimes takes a lot of bravery to be different. Whereas writing music that conforms to what you think will be popular is ultimately spineless – “you’ll fit in if you tear out your backbone”.
7. Lonely At The Wheel
This song is a little bit later down the line from ‘Blamer’. It’s about walking away from a relationship that isn’t working and the relief of leaving, from the moment you get in the car and drive away – “Lonely at the wheel, never thought I’d feel so still, driving away from my own problems”. Relationships are never simple, but sometimes it’s impossible to fix a problem you didn’t create – “you were broken when I got there, I couldn’t find you through all the mess”. People can drag you down and sometimes when you lose that burden it can give you a new lease of life – I try to sum this up in the second verse – “nothing compares to you not being here” (Cheers Sinead O’Connor).
The lyrics to this one are a bit weird. I would like to think my nature is reasonably altruistic and kind, but in the modern world nice guys finish last. So I wrote about how I should try to be more forthcoming and fight to be first, even if it comes at the expense of others. My Mum is the most selfless person I know (and I like to think she has taught me well,) and I have seen a lot of people take advantage of that in the past – “I thought I saw my mother’s hands, they pecked until their beaks hit the bone’ so in a way I’ve had to unlearn what she taught me growing up ‘I’ll forget how it feels to be as wholesome as you”.
9. Bullet Wounds
I must have written this song on the way to play a show after a long day at work. I often feel like I’m two people, day-job Paul and Nightlife Paul. Hence the line “Jeckle at Dawn leaves the Hyde creeping out in the dark”. As long as I have my band as a tonic to the torture that is work I think I’ll be ok! “Another game to play ‘til I hit the stage, I’d throw it all away to wake up on this lonely road” – I hope my boss doesn’t see this!
10. Wake Me When It’s Over
This is along a similar lines to ‘Dilute’. I wrote it after hearing an album from a band that I previously loved, where the album had been rushed and the content was shallow. It sounded like the band had stuck with every first idea they had come up with and each track sounded the same! My frustration came when listening to the album track by track hoping I get the smallest bit of satisfaction, but being let down – “rinse and repeat, ‘til I accept my defeat”.
11. Salt & Acid
This song is about someone I once knew who was a bit of a recluse. Content with simply existing, scared of trying anything new or going out in to the world and actually having an experience. I’m from quite a small town and sometimes that fishbowl way of life can suck you in. You end up working somewhere local, settle down close to your parents and eventually send your children to the same school you went to… ludicrous! Sometimes you have to force yourself to do the things that scare you the most to discover who you are and what you can achieve. I probably read that in some crappy quote book but it makes sense!
‘Salt & Acid’ by Nightlife is available now on Speaking Tongues.