Nanna explores painful love on their first EP.
Accidentally plunging into a scorching bath that at first looks friendly and familiar can end up feeling like brushing flesh against screaming streams of water, each drop breaking over skin. After listening to Leeds, UK lo-fi rock band Nanna’s Don't Touch Me EP, I began to feel similarly about former lovers. The EP is a reflection and a reminder that even things that seem comforting can be terribly painful. The two tracks together are enchanting and disarming, packing in sounds that dance around noise rock and escape into pop rhythms.
The first of the two, “Don’t Touch Me,” masks desire and dismay underneath noise and haunting vocals. It's simply set up, bringing in bass, guitar and vocal, but with relatable mixed ideas of self-control and yearning. In repetition, vocalist Rosie Ramsden belts out,“Don’t touch me, don't touch me there,” which becomes muddled in the additional details of dwelling on the lover’s past lack of consistency. It's impossible to disassociate the pain of the implied relationship from the lingering craving of physical touch no matter how potentially devastating. Amongst ooh’s and ahh’s, the lyrics devolve into, “You won't touch me anymore.” The command and control of telling the lover never to touch them walks between confidence and devotion. Not only has the complexity become about a lack of concrete wants, but it has wrapped itself in carnal rage. It's almost the build up to checking in on someone who wronged you or having platonic sleepovers just to hold on to someone who isn’t there anymore. The strength and guilt persist in the instrumentals, almost conjuring riot grrrl styles of romance: aware, pained, and yet intrigued. The song ends in a facetious chant like omen, one that alludes to a sexual conclusion, “I can feel it coming, I can feel it coming, coming / I can feel it coming, I can feel it coming, coming.” The chant fades into a tired whispers and a distant shout, instruments lingering behind the voices. Entering a relevant void.
The void. We carve and cut out spaces in notebooks and scraps of paper letting ink bleed into the pages like plump tears — writing journal entries, personal essays, side notes, lists, poems, songs. Songs like the Nanna’s “Void” that scream "I’m sorry, I love you, I’m scared, please help and sometimes please don’t touch me if it won’t be like before." However, nothing shouted into the void ever seems real; the implication is that the abyss, doubtful and apathetic, is a coping strategy shaped by removal. “In this void I never wanna see your face / In this void I never wanna know the places / That you teased me yeah, it pleased me no escape.” Even so, it is almost impossible to be complete devoid of someone, even if you undergo an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind kind of memory erasing procedure. Memories stick like red wine stains, they are tucked away somewhere. Nanna knows this, even in the void, the singers all attempt to hide the reality of hurt, physical imprints, and painful memories. This exploration is much more upbeat, instrumentally, as it introduces higher pitches and marching paced percussion. However, the voices and distortion lagging behind the rhymes add texture and tone, becoming a sound of distressed victory. Don't Touch Me is a short iteration of slipping into trying to leave bad lovers behind, physically and mentally. It can be a tiresome course to follow, but the EP combines both the lyrical confusion amidst an arrested instrumental. The band leaves much to be explored in a larger project, but Don't Touch Me works as an exploration and unpacking of a more specific instance.
Listen to Nanna on bandcamp.
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Brandi Fullwood is a self proclaimed Chopped Champion, music blogger and Millennial Youth with Potential™ She's a student at Middlebury College in the very brisk state of VT, where she studies Political Science and Film & Media Culture. Check out her #content on Twitter and Instagram.