The Innocent Bystanders – Attractive Nuisance


There are amateurs and professionals even at the highest level of success in the music business. The amateurs are content to reproduce, regenerate and redistribute the music that their forerunners made before them. They’re devoid of anything fresh and original to offer their listeners, so they take the cheap, easy way out and use a formula that’s already been tested. Never mind the fact that this formula, no matter how well it may have done when it was first taken out for a spin, is an archaic equation that doesn’t apply to the here and now of our modern society, and with it, its modern tastes.

But the amateurs don’t care, because they’re just looking to get a project finished, glazed with commercial polish and onto the record store shelves (or their digital contemporary counterpart, internet streaming sites) so that casual music fans and record consumers may unknowingly buy into their trash whilst looking for new music to get into. The professionals are much different. They value the listeners and their varied tastes. They don’t want to make anything that sounds similar to something that you might have heard in the past. They’re originals, authentic stewards of this ancient craft, not just keepers of the archives. Not only are they rejecting the old ways of doing things, but they straight up dread the thought of making something that could be perceived or taken as derivative in design, nature or essence. This isn’t just a job for them, but a lifestyle, a religion, a means to which they are able satisfy an itch that never seems to really go away. To say that the San Diego, California based alternative rock collective The Innocent Bystanders are a proud addition and member of the latter category is not just an understatement but on the cusp of being an insult to their skillset and devotion.

The Innocent Bystanders have been a band that all of us in the indie music journalism community have been getting really hung up on lately thanks to some vivacious, high energy live performances on their native California soil and their debut release, an extended play appropriately titled Attractive Nuisance. While I’m not going to tell you that Attractive Nuisance changed my life the same way Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground did back when I was just a young kid with her dad’s record collection and a lot of spare time to screw around, I can attest to this band’s immense potential to be one of the hottest bands of the 2020’s if this is indeed the identity that they’re going to be sticking with embarking on their career. Songs like “Highway” and “Emerald Eyes” demonstrate some immaculate songwriting chops, while “Gotta Get Outta Here” and “Working Man’s Daughter” both allude to a much gentler, pondering nuance that I would love to see the band expand upon a little more in their future work. There are a couple of little kinks that I would iron out like mixing the vocals a bit higher into the finished product and letting the string parts get a larger share of the spotlight, but overwhelmingly this has got to be one of the most solid debuts I’ve had the chance to review in a long time. Earthy, professionally produced and honestly delivered, The Innocent Bystanders’ Attractive Nuisance is a smart and sexy choice for anyone in the market for a different style of rock to soundtrack their summer with.

Sebastian Cole