Born within the age of SoundCloud rap and with it the growing movement of emo rap, Massachusetts born and bred singer/songwriter nothing,nowhere. (aka Joe Mulherin) was rearing, raising and championing the genre alongside the late Lil Peep from its infancy up into its current adolescence.
For Mulherin, everything from the outset was DIY and done by his own terms, blending minimalistic emo rock, acoustic and alternative music with beat driven overlays and rap bars, wearing his hardships and personal struggles on his sleeve and putting them onto paper and in his songs.
Just a few months following the release of his surging sophomore breakthrough ‘Reaper’, and with a label move over to Fueled By Ramen, third full-length ‘Ruiner’ sees him continue to flourish and evolve the genre and sound that he helped to create, all whilst also taking a few new routes along the way.
First track proper, ‘Reminiscer’, sees Mulherin enter with some lightly reverbed guitars delicately strummed whilst he sings us into the project, “It’s too late to save my sanity / You can’t expect me to change.” It’s this darkness, wracked with emotional torture, and often self-deprecating topics that are very much the core of what nothing,nowhere. centres around, and this certainly continues with following number, ‘Better’, with its ethereal rap beat backdrop and solemn guitar notes weaving throughout it.
Later numbers ‘Rejecter’ and ‘Sayer’ continue the trip of pain and emotional torture. The former is certainly the most frail, and even in Mulherin‘s delivery it’s hard to not relate to the emotional rejection of a partner, and the almost morbid level of depression that can sometimes come along with that.
‘Hammer’ steers things off the usual track slightly, and sees nothing,nowhere. at his most optimistic and upbeat, though still nowhere near a song developed and constructed for mainstream pop radio stations. Here, Mulherin reflects on his continuing rise to the top, bragging about where he’s been and where he’s at now, and for good reason too, taking little jabs at his doubters who are now working their day jobs while he “just made a few stacks off a merch drop.”
This number easily has the most infectious chorus on the record, reeling you in with its simplistic hooks and rhyming couplets, referring to early 2000s cartoon superhero Danny Phantom before his positive elation to his growing discography, “All my shit bang like a motherfucking hammer.”
Closing things out is ‘Waster’. The verses are reduced to almost entirely one-word lines of the burden and effort of just existing, and just hoping and praying for the hard times to hurry up and pass by. At one point there’s even a distant-sounding intense scream, which harks back to some of nothing,nowhere.‘s earlier and rougher around the edges work, really serving the song’s dismal presence. Yet, even with the emotional semi-truck that this album throws at you, there’s an essence of closure and relief in how this track bows us out.
‘Ruiner’ isn’t an album that sees nothing,nowhere. trying to reinvent himself, and frankly he doesn’t need to at this point. Expanding on his blueprint has delivered an album which sees him at his most versatile and relatable, and that though even when in a moment of struggle and the lack of perspective that it comes with, there may be something of value in the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
At times the listen is almost as heavy as the subjects of loneliness, solipsism, and borderline nihilism that Mulherin fearlessly addresses and confronts, and, in an age where the deterioration of mental health is increasing far more rapidly than the help and support that’s out there to combat it, artists like nothing,nowhere. and albums like ‘Ruiner’ can act as a comforting if only temporary escape from reality.