EP Review: Nudista’s glistening, passive and soothing debut ‘Halfway Here’.

The Breakdown

A very earnest, heart-felt and tender EP with great moments of chemistry between the two vocalists. Shows a lot of emotional depth and promise for Nudista, well worth a listen.

Nudista are a band that are defined by their gentle charm, leaning towards the more sensitive end of the indie-rock spectrum. This new release focuses on the efforts of joint-leads: Pilar Matji Cabello and Robbie Carman, who have used the song writing of ‘Halfway Here’ as a way to express and navigate anxiety in anxious times. 

I see this release as a significantly open-hearted undertaking as the tracks all point towards the songwriters’ honest portrayal of their emotions. It’s a theme that begins straight from the opener: ‘confess’, where Cabello sings of her personal shortcomings in life and love. The instrumentation has an echoing Mazzy Star quality that uplifts any overly sombre notes that the lyrics may lean into.

The sliding guitar tone and billowing organ grows the space between the realism of Cabello’s voice and the hope-filled production, and I found moments like the last thirty seconds of ‘confess’ to be where the real energy and weight of Nudista‘s sound shows itself clearest.

The beautiful, painterly work of Robbie Carman on the cover of ‘Halfway Here’

Leading on from the catchy ‘confess’, is the featherlight ‘inasmuch’ with it’s nostalgic ensemble of children’s percussion instruments glittering below the jangling guitars. I don’t think there’s anything tacky about the way Nudista have layered wooden sounders, toy chimes and claves into this tune, it just gives a unique cutesiness to the track that I found endearing.

The song builds to a mantra of “It’s Alright… It’s Okay” sung by both songwriters in unison, which is one of the examples of Nudista‘s characteristic duets on the EP. Carman having this deep, rumbling Bill Callahan note to his voice that compliments Cabello in a very pure way, another highlight of the release.

‘Window’ furthers this chemistry between the two voices on this EP, with the performances shining a bit brighter than the other songs in my opinion. They both have great character to their vocals, and I felt that the more delicate, higher register of ‘window’ showed this element off very well.

This is all before the slow-country crescendo of ‘morning’ that stands as pretty solid manifesto to Nudista‘s efforts on ‘Halfway Here’. The song is in two halves, with each side of the duo taking turns to express some different faculty of purposelessness that I think a lot of us felt during Lockdown. That’s to put it briefly, which of course undersells the well-presented complexity of this song.

The duality of Cabello’s specificity and Carman’s bluntness in the lyrics they each sing, does a lot to layer and explore the themes of the EP in a way that feels organic and natural. Which is to say, as is true for a lot of the release, that the band really aren’t trying to present any gimmicks; but are just earnest musicians expressing themselves honestly.

The production, performances and song writing on this EP present a lot of promise for Nudista‘s future, and I think it is a very cogent and developed EP for a debut. I would be interested to see where the band’s chemistry takes them next, but for fans of indie-folk, country or even slower indie-rock; I’d give it a listen.

‘Halfway Here’ is out now on Sad Club Records, and is available to stream on all platforms.

Find physical copies of the EP on the band’s bandcamp.

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