It’s evident from the first listen that NONONO struggled to find an identity while crafting their debut album. But ultimately, the complacency exhibited by latching onto indie electro-pop’s latest trends makes the listener question if they even wanted an identitiy to begin with. NONONO’s only definitive sonic feature on We Are Only What We Feel is that they sound like they are trying to be everyone else. On Jungle and Fire Without A Flame, they seem to be aiming for an electro-pop dancefloor anthem, the type that have catapulted the careers of their Swedish contemporaries like Robyn and Icona Pop. Then on Like The Wind, Echo and Love, they attempt to emulate the chillier, more experimental electronic stylings of artists like Grimes and MØ, but end up with generic synths, dull melodies and a knack for playing it safe. Pumpin Blood, Hungry Eyes and One Wish are easy listening indie-pop groomed for radio spins, like something that would result from a synth-heavy collaboration between Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Grouplove.
Too many times on this album, most noticeably on Like The Wind, lead singer Stina Wappling sounds like an American Idol contestant doing her best Lorde impression and not the frontwoman of a group about to spend their August playing Lollapalooza and touring with Foster The People. We Are Only What We Feel is afraid to be anything but a shiny summary of what other people have done in electronic pop over the past two years, and it leads to an effort that is all over the place without making any kind of statement in any direction.
However, the lack of originality, boring melodies and played-out synths would be forgivable, if this album only had the one element that could save any pop effort: fun. This is an oddly inaccessible album for one that aims so hard to be palatable. The hooks are stale, the beats are in limbo between danceable and chill-able, and the lyrics read like the poetry of your average angsty 15 year old girl. “We are only what we feel/Yearning for something real/the moonlight breaks the crack of dawn/tweaking us into different paths” is one example. But almost any verse on the album would have served to prove that same point. NONONO are Swedish afterall, so while uneclectic, the album is not without its well executed, catchy genre charms. But what NONONO does well on We Are Only What We Feel, other people have done better time and time again.