Rhythm & Views 

Nowhere Man

Vikas Pawa, formerly of the local band the Beating and current member of I Like Red, seems intent on projecting a perfect existential persona: On his first solo recording, he calls himself "Nowhere Man," and many of the songs are about death and feeling utterly alone.

Pawa plays every instrument on the record, which he recorded and produced himself. The cover shows Pawa standing alone, scratching his head, as if in wonderment at the complete emptiness of the room in which he stands. The inside cover photo is him sitting on the floor in the same room, looking up, accepting the vast space. Hayden Carruth defined existentialism as "the reestablishment of the individual in the face of Nothingness and absurdity"; in the face of the many available sub-genres of late-20th-century rock, Nowhere Man is at once nowhere and everywhere.

Pawa decided he didn't want to be limited by the electronica slant of the Beating, so Considered to Tears veers off into arena rock and New Wave realms, sometimes within the same song ("... Take It Away," "Ornery"). But Pawa doesn't entirely eschew the synths, and electronic additions emerge more and more as the album progresses; the second-to-last track, "Empty Promises," erupts into full-blown synthesized syncopation. The last song, "Wait," is more country than anything else, and somehow, this pairing works. Pawa's songs are reminiscent of Mark Eitzel and a little Elvis Costello--classically melodic, post-Beatles pop, especially on songs like "Wasting" and "Wait."

These are the strongest songs on the record; they're well-produced and thoughtful, and the contrast between a song like "Wait" and a song like "Empty Promises" makes the former stand out all the more. Pawa's songs are best when he chooses a sound and sticks with it, whether it's a country/rock song like "Wait" or a gothic/electronic song like "Empty Promises." Maybe the country/rock songs seem more authentic because they're relatively new to Pawa; they shimmer with that new-love glow.

The existential thing would extend itself as a metaphor better if the songs didn't have an optimistic side. It may be in the music and not the lyrics, but it can't be denied: Nowhere Man isn't making nowhere plans for nobody. You can hear Pawa's corona of influences hovering around him as he takes a little here, and a little there. "Come on, you can do it. You can pull yourself out of your misery," sings Pawa on "Omery."

Considered to Tears, when you consider it to tears, pulls itself out of its own inner-genre misery.

More by Annie Holub


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