To say that Nothing More has cranked it up a few notches since their major label debut four years ago would be a disservice to just how much they've shifted things into the stratosphere.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves isn't so much a gigantic leap forward for the San Antonio, Texas based alternative act as it as a showcase in maturity in both musicianship and in singer Jonny Hawkins ripping it out over the grinding grooves, much of them courtesy of guitarist Mark Vollelunga.

The record is front-loaded with a bunch of anthemic intensity, evident in album opener "Do You Really Want It." From the slow, almost front porch stomp of the beginning to Hawkins' yowl and the powerful lyrical stance of, "So I can shake these American demons," it's an unmitigated take on what is wrong with the current political climate and what should be right in everyone's heart as an alternative.

Elsewhere, there's no lack of heaviness; it's a stacked card. From the the punishing "Let 'em Burn" to the soaring "Go to War," not to mention the brutality of "The Great Divorce," fans will be hard-pressed to find something deeper to get into.

The reality of Nothing More's diversity has never been a question, but it really puts itself on display when it comes to ballads, or at the points where the songs grow from a subtle start to explosive chorus. "Still In Love" is one example, painstaking in its heartfelt lyrics that go, at one point, "We were gonna grow old together / But now we're just growing old."

The one oddity about The Stories We Tell Ourselves comes toward the second half. The instrumental interlude of "Accept / Disconnect" leads into heaviness for sure in the fist-pumping "Go to War," but the following songs are where the true growth of Nothing More comes to the forefront.

"Just Say When" is one of the most beautiful paeans to a broken relationship not just by Nothing More, but ever. And for anyone who has ever had absentee father issues, "Fade In / Fade Out" will absolutely break your heart. It's an epic album closer to an LP that deserves all the accolades it'll no doubt receive. The Stories We Tell Ourselves is one of the best albums of the year. Pick it up now.

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