Touted as 764-HERO's "most polished record to date", Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere
fits that description while at the same time defying it. To take a band like 764-HERO and over-polish their sound would most likely be a bad move. Who hasn't looked forward to an album by their favorite band, only to find that all the raw qualities they were drawn to in previous outings had been glossed over by a haze of excessive production? Thankfully, the man behind the mixing desk for Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere
was Phil Ek, who manned the helm on previous 764-HERO efforts, including 1997's We're Solids
and the following year's Get Here and Stay
. Retaining the services of a producer who was not only experienced (Ek has produced albums for Built to Spill and Modest Mouse, among others), but also familiar with the band's sound, was certainly helpful here. Ek gave the album a bit of a shine, but never got carried away. All of the elements for which 764-HERO is known -- the understated, yet perfectly in sync instrumentation and John Atkins' odd, gentle vocal phrasing -- are intact. There's no need to fear the "polish" here.
Filling the eternally transient bass player position for this round is Robin P. (Modest Mouse), who, I must say, fits quite nicely. His simple, familiar sound fits well (see "Shoot a 45" and "Photographic Evidence"). It's hard to find a good bass player these days, so it looks as if 764-HERO has some major luck on their side.
No review would be complete without at least making mention of drummer Polly Johnson, who formed 764-HERO with Atkins in 1995. On Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere, Johnson continues her tradition of providing perfect rhythmic backbones to the band's music. Much in the same style as Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley, she's restrained at times (as on "Shoot a 45"), and plays with wild abandon at others (see "You Were A Party") -- and whichever direction she chooses, it seems like just the right move.
There are plenty of standout tracks on Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere, from ballad-styled songs like the slowly building "Answers" and the heart-breaking "Skylines" to the pure guitar-driven rock of "You Were A Party", "Confetti Confessional" and the hook-heavy "Oceanbound". "Satellites", another distinctive track, features Atkins' pained and emotive vocals paired with guest Ward Johnson's soulfully melancholy electric piano tinkerings. It'll get you all choked up.
This is a solid (and yes, more polished) effort, not likely to disappoint their ardent fans, and I expect that it will draw many new listeners to the band's somber world. Whichever group you find yourself in, you'll want to add Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere to your collection (and 764-HERO newbies would be well advised to leave a little extra room on the CD shelf for the band's previous releases).