NESTOR – Teenage Rebel

By Katherine Allvey

It’s a rare situation when you can refer to a band who formed in 1989 as ‘the hot new guys’, but that’s part of the joy of NESTOR. They exist in their own timeless Swedish bubble, slightly out of sync with our own timeline, frozen in the era of big hair and bigger solos. Since they emerged from decades of hibernation in 2021 with their debut, NESTOR have formed a bridge between post-middle aged stadium fillers and the growing numbers of re-interested lovers of kitsch and denim. Don’t expect innovation or anything even remotely approaching gritty. Instead, revel in the cheesy and earnest excesses of the denim and leather era. 

‘Victorious’ is as much a declaration of their emotions in this moment in time as it is a catchy first single. It needs to be the soundtrack to a Rocky-style training montage in which someone conquers their personal fear of the gym, and bursts with optimistic, chunky guitar. There always needs to be a song about a girl in this sort of album, and their synth-heavy anguish at being separated from ‘Caroline’ capably delivers. Just dying to be turned into a karaoke staple, it climbs and twists through the depths of hopeless emotion via just as much twiddly guitar as you’d hope for.

The grandiosity of NESTOR’s sound has to be their main appeal. ‘We Come Alive’ channels stage-mates KISS on a huge scale, and even in their marginally smaller Bon Jovi youth-in-a-small-town moments like title track ‘Teenage Rebel’. “I’ve always been a dreamer, a believer, “ wails Tobias Gustavsson and you get the sense, even when his school years must be long behind him, that he really believes every melodramatic word. Even their softer tracks operate on a cinematic scale; ballad ‘Last To Know’ chugs along peacefully, transforming the broken teenage love affair into a relationship that would tug at the heartstrings of thousands. Thoughtful piano number ‘Daughter’, ‘Teenage Rebel’s closer, pays tribute to familial bonds in a song made for overly dramatic candlelight and silhouetted guitar solos. 

Their formative years seem to be a big focus for the Swedes, which is somewhat of an oddly anachronistic decision considering (based on their heavily edited press photos) they seem to have left their acne years far behind them. ’21’, the age when they’ve “got a feeling this journey has only begun,” is their galactic inspiration for optimistic, high tempo rock, and fits in with ‘Teenage Rebel’s overall kids-on-the-run energy. We don’t blame Bon Jovi for similar biker runs down memory lane, or when Springsteen reminisces about his nineteenth birthday when he got ‘his union card and his wedding coat’ so it’s very on brand, but the character they create is ever so slightly at odds with their maturity in skill and presence. Another unexpected choice is opening the album with a ninety second spoken monologue. “You are nothing special,” intones the narrator, completely contrasting with the way NESTOR make everything else sound like it’s a vast battle for life and death over caffeinated chord changes.

Sometimes, snark is funny. Steel Panther earns their pay check through satirising the power sound that NESTOR live for, and we’ve all stifled a snigger at videos of Justin Hawkins in spandex jumping around a spaceship. Simultaneously, there’s also a time and a place for serious explorations of the depths of misery in the human psyche, and there’s more than enough acts out there willing to lay their darkest thoughts bare for listener dissection. NESTOR are glossy, sure, and they’re not challenging to the metal status quo, but they are a lot of fun and display a dedication to walking a line that few are seriously walking. There’s always room for more talent, and NESTOR’s skill at producing endearing replicas of the eighties sound is cementing them a place in the power corner of the musical world. 

KATE ALLVEY

Three more album reviews for you

Other Half - 'Dark Ageism'

Tether. – ‘Mirror Work’

LIVE: Slam Dunk Festival @ Hatfield Park, UK