Photo Credit: Dan Brown
nothing,nowhere.’s latest album Trauma Factory offers a fresh take on what it means to be human. The introspective album follows a compilation of fan favorites reimagined released in 2020 and a collaborative EP with Travis Barker from blink-182 that hit stores in 2019. This new project from Joe Mulherin maintained the pop punk influences brought in by Barker for this new album while also infusing it with his signature style of emo rap and hip-hop. Opening with a spoken word poem that doubles as the title track, Mulherin lays out the concept of the album, ending with the memorable phrase: “Human life is a trauma factory.”
As said by Mulherin himself, “‘Trauma Factory’ is an accumulation of songs written during a confusing time.” “It is about accepting the present and following your true north through the pain and suffering of human life,” nothing,nowhere. revealed. He added, “I wanted to make an album that was truly genreless and inspire others to challenge themselves artistically. I believe the most inspiring art is unpredictable and unrestrictive. To me that’s what ‘Trauma Factory’ is.”
Genreless is one way to describe Trauma Factory since you get something different with every song. Transitions from the heavy guitars of “fake friend” to heavy metal screaming on “death” are initially jarring but works for the album as Mulherin displays a variety of emotions. While other artists like Machine Gun Kelly attempted to recreate the nostalgia of 2000s pop punk, Mulherin evokes that sound while modernizing it with pop, rap, and hip-hop influences. This fresh take on the style makes the entire album endearing to listen to. Each track is diverse, yet cohesive enough to to make the Trauma Factory a great project.
Struggles with mental health have plagued Mulherin in the past, even leading him to cancel a string of shows in 2018 following a series of anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. Songs like “pretend” and “real” relay these experiences sonically and make for standout tracks on Trauma Factory. “pretend” is a song about the harmful side of nostalgia and how it can impact your ability to heal, while “real” is a highly personal track about mulherin’s mental health specifically. The shift to more subtle production emphasizes the intimate nature of this track. Citing an interaction with a fan within the song just goes to show how much of an impact those little moments have on both the fan and the artist themselves. Lyrics like “I can’t even tell if it’s nightmares or it’s real life // Working every day and I didn’t even realize // I can isolate, forget what being human feels like,” are persistent and continue the conversation throughout the album.
Aside from mental health, Mulherin does not shy away from highlighting some of the hardest moments of the human experience. From realizing your friends might not be who they say they are (“fake friend”), to losing a relationship that you treasured (“upside down”), no topics are off limits. Some of the best songs come from sharing these deeply personal experiences, and nothing,nowhere. has utilized his to create an album that not only highlights, but destigmatizes feeling our negative emotions.