A trio of childhood friends who had been playing music together since they were middle-schoolers, Wallows made their debut under the moniker with a handful of stand-alone singles in 2017. The first one, "Pleaser," went viral and was followed by a major-label recording contract. These quick successes were almost certainly helped along by press coverage surrounding lead singer/guitarist Dylan Minnette, who had just premiered as the lead in the first season of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. (Bandmate Braeden Lemasters is also an experienced screen actor.) On their full-length debut, Nothing Happens, the group prove that they're more than mere dilettantes with a combination of memorable melodies, catchy rhythms, often stirring harmonic progressions, and just enough lyrical depth to silence many doubters. An exception to the latter may be the playful "Scrawny," whose repeated "I'm a scrawny motherfucker with a cool hairstyle" serves as the chorus. Led by Minnette's deadpan, take-it-in-stride delivery, its self-depreciating, hooky power pop and weightier verses may still win over many put off by its anthem. Other songs grapple with saying the right thing, trying to connect, finding a place in the world, and other anxieties of young adulthood that don't necessarily get better with age. In the two years since "Pleaser," they've doubled down on influences including post-punk (the infectious "Only Friend"), power pop, and the Strokes but minus all the attitude. Lead single and album highlight "Are You Bored Yet?" features bedroom pop starlet Clairo and neatly combines '80s-evoking keyboard timbres, a sweet melody, existentialism, and a plea for honesty in an under-three-minute package seemingly addressed to Generation Z. Taken together, though, Nothing Happens is relatable to a Zeitgeist as much as an age group and shouldn't be missed by those with a certain melancholy-pop sensibility.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson