Nightmares for a Week - Civilian War (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Nightmares for a Week

Civilian War (2013)

Broken English / Suburban Home

Nightmares for a Week's 2010 debut LP Don't Die was an overlooked gem, one of those releases that rarely seemed to garner negative criticism but struggled to gather the attention it deserved. If you want proof of this, give that record a listen on the band's page and then try to find our review of the album.


Thankfully, we have the opportunity to rectify our oversight two years ago with a review of Civilian War, which should be good for pageviews as the band with a Jawbreaker reference for a name have given their latest record a title eerily similar to a Dillinger Four record. Of course, Nightmares for a Week don't sound like either of those bands, being more in the vein of the Get Up Kids or Marriage-era Attack in Black.

Those familiar with the band's previous full-length will find that they've picked up right where they left off on Don't Die, stringing together a catchy disc of gruff-vocaled mid-tempo rockers with the occasional slow acoustic number mixed in. Truth be told, the biggest negative about Civilian War is that it doesn't stray very far from the band's previous release. They are such similar records that you can't listen to Civilian War without thinking of Don't Die, and while Civilian War is a very good record, it can't quite match the band's previous release and therefore doesn't quite leave as big of an impression as one would hope.

That being said, the releases are not without their differences. Where Don't Die started on its softest note, Civilian War chooses to kick off with the meat and potatoes of Nightmares for a Week's sound in "Down in the Streets," a mid-tempo rocker that kicks the album off with a good sing-along chorus and the promise of many more to come. They follow it up with "Dead Men," possibly the band's most aggressive song yet, and one that stands out from the rest of their catalog due to its chaotic, jolting rhythm. Lyrically, the disc spans a pretty broad spectrum of topics, ranging from Don't Die-esque songs about living life with reckless abandon to more serious tracks about migrant workers, veterans and cancer. The band do a good job of tackling these topics, using narratives and storytelling to avoid coming off as heavy-handed.

Nightmares for a Week do a good job of avoiding the sophomore slump with Civilian War. It suffers somewhat from being quite similar to the band's previous release, but it's hard to be too negative about an album being similar to a disc I already described as an "overlooked gem." If you didn't like Don't Die, this album won't change your opinion about the band, but if you enjoyed that disc (or missed out on it entirely), then Civilian War is certainly worth a listen.