Nutrients Find the Sublime in Common Things on 'Different Bridges'
Published Aug 04, 2022Toronto's Nutrients strike a magical sort of balance on their sophomore full-length Different Bridges, managing to be both cool as Paul Newman's saunter and sweet as candy. Expansive even as it is minute, Different Bridges finds the young band evolving and refining their sound, planting themselves in a breezy vibrancy. It's at once nostalgic and a breath of fresh air for the way it finds contentment in the things we take for granted.
Different Bridges certainly maintains Nutrients' bent for '70s rock so soft and groovy that it's nearly disco, folding in jazz and '80s new wave while preserving the group's yacht-rock leanings. But it's also deliciously more sophisticated than their earlier work — in comparison to their relatively pared-back 2019 self-titled debut, Different Bridges feels orchestral for the way the piano bleeds on "How the Breeze Felt," or how the saxophone (played by guest musician Emily Steinwall) mourns on "Long Walk on the Beach." On the enigmatic "Nausea" — which could punctuate a winding chase scene in something like the jaunty Newman-starring 1966 crime thriller Harper — the sax is joined by popping bongos and a triangle courtesy of percussionist Juan Carlos Medrano. This is a much more complex and textured album instrumentally, leaning unabashedly and confidently into a more strident vein of yacht-rock.
There's a compelling contradiction at play on Different Bridges, too: though the lush and sensual music is deeply nostalgic, the album also manages to remain present and modern through lead singer Taylor Teeple's vocals and lyrics. Each track seems to celebrate an uncomplicated observation or feeling at an unhurried pace, not to mine it ad nauseum for meaning — and thereby reach some grand conclusion about life itself — but simply for the sake of remembering it at all. The tracks play as vignettes, relating small but sweet moments; on "I," Teeple breathily sings "I like the sound of your voice when you remember my name," going on to tell of meeting an old acquaintance — perhaps a crush — and noting they've changed, wondering whether they'll remember this moment, too. It's saccharine, so sweet as to give you a cavity. "Long Walk on the Beach" is likewise sugary, opening with ukulele-like guitar tones as Teeple talks of movement, perhaps directions to the beach, savouring the feeling of being in the world and living in the moment even as he acknowledges that it will eventually pass.
The lyrics are deeply intimate without being confessional, and in this way the album delivers a levity and freshness, something not too belaboured or chewed over by analysis, experiences that are allowed to exist in their own right, nothing more. Taking small but precious moments (such as on "Window Seat," which celebrates that inconsequential but still beautiful feeling of getting the seat you want on the bus or the plane) and stating them bluntly, literally — gesturing toward their meaningfulness but gesturing only — Different Bridges is deeply life affirming. Honouring life's minutiae in a pregnant but subtle way, the simplicity of Teeples' words leaves room to appreciate the lushness of the music as it washes over you.
"How the Breeze Felt" epitomizes this delightful contradiction perfectly. The guitars here have a Steely Dan-esque twang, but the piano is almost sombre, like that of the mournful lounge singer at the heart of Billy Joel's "Piano Man." "At the back of the bar they're playing your song," Teeple sings as the piano begins its sweetly melancholic climb, "it reminds me of how the beach felt / how the breeze felt." The lyrics build a world in delicate broad strokes that the music populates and fleshes out stunningly, softening the edges of the contradiction between these airy, sparing lyrics and the ornate music.
With a suave, deeply nostalgic sound that trades in timeless cool and lyrics that are sweet and attentive, Different Bridges proves that simplicity and complexity can commingle and coexist to create a fulsome and vibrant thing. It not only signifies growth from Nutrients, but is also a unique experience that ought to be cherished, showing us how we can find moments worth elevating to the sublime in everyday life.