Nero – Welcome Reality

written by: September 20, 2011
Release Date: August 15, 2011


Humanity stands a mere seven years away from 2019, when Los Angeles will be a city of 104 million people, rife with flying cars, staggering steel pyramids and illuminated umbrellas—it’s only right that we adjust our soundtracks accordingly. At least that’s what Nero attempts to illustrate with their debut album Welcome Reality, a long, electronic tale of love, guilt and doomsday all set in a retro vision of the future.

On the whole, the album is by parts dubstep, house and Vangelis, an auspicious concept almost totally butchered.

Poor taste is to blame as much as anything. Highly derivative, the album manages to do both four-on-the-floor and wobble-bass injustice. There are moments when the London duo harnesses a decent groove, but it’s never long before it devolves into histrionics. Some of the best moments come when the stakes are low. Opener “2808” is percussion-free in what seems like a mere prelude to the album with an airy, synth-laden illustration of the lonely future. Its spacey ending becomes the intro of the next song, a pattern that continues throughout the album. Although it’s a nice touch, it doesn’t add much to an album with little to no continuity.

Then there is ignorance in general, either that or cheeky irony. Most of the tracks are mere sing-a-longs with dance-floor sentiment. Case in point: “Crush on You.” The album is made even more for the clubs than for the pop charts.  If Welcome Reality were going to be an authentic period piece, employing the prickly analog runs of the 1980s, it shouldn’t have blended them with trite, modern techno hits. Maybe the band should have tried something more from the era-accurate playbook of French artist College.

“Doomsday,” with its buzzsaw siren riff (a la Bloody Beetroots) is one of the most muscular pieces on the album, probably because there’s no one singing on it. But just as that buzzsaw riff is given the listener in all its hard (albeit hackneyed) glory, it’s dropped and taken away, replaced with a roaring dubstep variation. It’s nothing special.

The album suffers from its hopelessly formulaic composition: Preheat the track with a little trancy synthesizer, sprinkle corny dance vocal hook over lightly, then bring it to a rolling boil with the dubstep finale. Welcome to Reality is wedged uncomfortably between dance-pop and conceptual vision. Rather than bridge the two gaps, Nero leaves the listener on vague ground, and that’s fine if there’s not too much thought put into it.  Just don’t think too hard about it—ride the rave. Nero is a hype band—now nominated for the BBC’s “Sounds of 2011” poll. But if this is the music of “2808,” how can it be?

 Nero – Welcome Reality Tracklist:

  1. “2808”
  2. “Doomsday”
  3. “My Eyes”
  4. “Guilt”
  5. “Fugue State”
  6. “Me and You”
  7. “Innocence”
  8. “In the Way”
  9. “Scorpions”
  10. “Crush on You”
  11. “Must Be the Feeling”
  12. “Reaching Out”
  13. “Promises”
  14. “Departure”