Album Review: Jim Nothing – In The Marigolds

The New Zealand songwriter proves the spirit of Dunedin is alive and well on this excellent collection of skewed, jangly indie pop

Is there a second coming of New Zealand indie? Was there ever an end to the first? It’s hard to say. While so many great Kiwi bands are no more (Sneaky Feelings, The Go-Betweens, The Mutton Birds, we salute you), the majority of the Flying Nun crew are still going strong, give or take a hiatus here or there.

If it’s not a resurrection then there’s at the very least a renewed interest in the idiosyncratic pop that characterised the country’s 80s output. Its influence is everywhere, from Antipodean bands that grew up on their parents’ Flying Nun records to kindred spirits from further afield, either sonically (Ducks Ltd., Smokescreens) or nominally (Kiwi Jr.).

Jim Nothing - Yellow House (Official Video)

Already this week, we’ve turned ourselves inside out looking for plaudits strong enough to describe Auckland’s The Beths. But while we were focused on the North Island, something special was creeping up from the South. That something is Jim Nothing, the alter ego of Christchurch’s James G Sullivan, formerly the drummer in the excellent Salad Boys.

In The Marigolds, Sullivan’s first release under the Jim Nothing moniker since 2015, could easily pass for a lost Flying Nun classic. So many of the iconic label’s leading lights are stitched into the album’s DNA: a touch of The Clean here (‘Fall Back Down’), some Bats there (‘Seahorse Kingdom’), an otherworldly poppiness that could only come from The Chills (‘Nowhere Land’), a haunting jangle inherited from The Verlaines (‘Something New’).

Jim Nothing - Fall Back Down (Official Music Video)

Sonically, In The Marigolds has much in common with Salad Boys’ woefully underrated 2015 debut Metalmania – albeit with rougher edges and a touch more weirdness – and Pavement’s Spiral Stairs in his Preston School Of Industry days. It alternates pleasantly between crunchy power pop (‘Never Come Down’, ‘Yellow House’, ‘Already Gone’) and amiable jangle pop (‘Seahorse Kingdom’, ‘Back Again’), weaving the two together into a haze of lovely melodies and simple-but-effective textures. It’s a record that really makes you hope Jim Nothing is now more of a going concern.

In The Marigolds is available to buy and stream now.