One of the most obvious differences between contemporary mainstream rock and that of the past is the absence of the dirty, nonconformist element of danger once responsible for getting alternative music out of the underground and into the spotlight. While I’m not saying that Back from Nothing is reviving the dangerous side of the rock aesthetic in their new single “Stay on the Phone,” you’d be hard-pressed to find another band exhibiting the punkish energy of the genre’s most stripped-down acts quite as well as they are today. They’re still getting their feet wet as a group in the spotlight, but overall, they’ve made me a little more excited about what’s in store for 2023.
The arrangement for “Stay on the Phone” essentially exemplifies the efficiency and DIY method of creation that serves as a core element of the Back from Nothing sound, but it’s not so barebones that we’re left with something that feels like it was thrown together. There aren’t any big props competing with the lyrical narrative; this band is drawing off of a classic template whilst refusing to recycle anything we’ve already seen before, which is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to accomplish.
“Stay on the Phone” boasts a vocal harmony in its chorus that is striking whenever I hear it, and I would even attribute its style to being more of a hidden pop adornment than an homage to anything old school. I think there are a couple of areas of this group’s sound that they’re not quite tapping into as much as they could if given a little more time to develop, and chief among them is their pop-influenced composing skills. They’ve got the capacity to do something more with this sound, and it will be very interesting to see how it evolves over the years as they find their way towards a larger audience likely to demand a bit more out of their complete depth as a group.
Between the nimbleness of this groove and the overall punch of the band’s play in general, it’s obvious that Back from Nothing isn’t a group that gets intimidated by playing loud, fast rock n’ roll that doesn’t require a lot of virtuosity to sting as hard as a wasp. One of my favorite things about this song is that it doesn’t waste our time with a lot of ridiculous soloing and artless complexities best left on classic rock radio (where they belong), and with any luck, its creator’s contemporaries will take a page out of their book on this front.
I hadn’t been listening to Back from Nothing before stumbling upon this single just recently, but I’m all in on their sound after getting into this. “Stay on the Phone” doesn’t challenge the entire system, but instead just a couple of its most annoying parts – namely commerciality, glossy excuses for creativity, and the idea that every pop/rock single has to revolve around a sleek hook. This is bold and robust with a purpose, and it’s got my 100% approval as both a critic and a fan of uncorrupted alternative rock.