Have a Nice Life- The Unnatural World

written by: February 5, 2014
Album-art-for-The-Unnatural-World-by-Have-a-Nice-Life Release Date: February 4, 2014


Musicians and masterminds Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga (together, Have a Nice Life) are back with The Unnatural World, a follow-up to their critically acclaimed studio album, Deathconciousness.

It’s their take on post-punk, a unique blend of shoegaze, noise, ambient, and industrial influences, all with a heavy dose of darkness. Released by Flenser Records and the band’s own label, Enemies List Home Recordings, the album succeeds in filling a soul with foreboding.

Aggressive and thundering, feedback-heavy bass characterizes opening A Side track “Guggenheim Wax Museum” and gives the distinct impression that a giant lumbers slowly throughout.

While several songs could be the soundtrack to sinking into a lake of black sludge (see: “Music Will Untune the Sky”), “Defenestration Song” is a jam for wallflowers dressed in black.

Slow-burning B Side kick-off, “Cropsey” is emblematic of everything good about post-everything. Beginning and ending with an audio recording of an interview with a young boy who was sent away because he was experiencing “discipline problems,” it stands out in the middle of the album with its hazy, reverb-soaked instrumentals and gorgeous, echoing vocals: “A song that I can sing along, I’ll just wait and track the soot-tracks home where I can be alone/Because I’ve been waiting everyone that I’ve been waiting on to show up and throw me out of here.”

That being said, The Unnatural World’s pièce de résistance is its closer, “Emptiness Will Eat the Witch.” Less ominous than other tracks, its low melodic line is nevertheless gripping.

“Emptiness Will Eat the Witch” is what people must hear while they close their eyes and wait to die.

The track features Have a Nice Life’s staple droning with instruments that sing alongside an endless chant, muddling where voices end and mechanical music begins. The duo shows its hand here, revealing that it’s a little maniacal, building a track lasting almost nine minutes that ends abruptly, cutting off lyrical guitar strumming mid-phrase, jarring listeners back into reality.

Have a Nice Life’s brand of noise, shoegaze, and post-punk isn’t pointlessly cacophonous; it’s enthralling. While the subject matter could seem overwrought, the impeccable execution and unique sound more than make up for any melodrama.

This sophomore album is unsettling, dank, and haunting, but Barrett and Macuga are experts at weaving beauty into the destruction, be it the vocals calling through the darkness, a simple piano melody, or a two-note guitar line. The Unnatural World is a symphony for the hapless, the downtrodden, and the misanthropes puttering through hopeless lives and an endless sea of grey.

Have a Nice Life- The Unnatural World tracklist:

  1. “Side A: Guggenheim Wax Museum”
  2. “Side A: Defenestration Song”
  3. “Side A: Burial Society”
  4. “Side A: Music Will Untune the Sky”
  5. “Side B: Cropsey”
  6. “Side B: Unholy Life”
  7. “Side B: Dan and Tim, Reunited by Fate”
  8. “Side B: Emptiness Will Eat the Witch”