Nell’s “Star Shell” and why I continue to enjoy their rather simple sound

Nell recently released their newest music video, “Star Shell“, and like most of the stuff they do, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I’ll admit to being a bit hypocritical in regards to Nell. If you just listen to their music, there’s not a ton going on. Yes, they’re technically capable, the instrumentals do sound good, and I enjoy their vocals, but in terms of melody, arrangement, and originality, there’s not much there that would seem to justify the amount of praise they get. However, I still enjoy them a lot. And I enjoy them primarily for their songwriting and their ability as a band to create the appropriate atmosphere for most of their songs, which leads to the melding of all the elements into one cohesive, impressive presentation (also, by almost all accounts, they are wonderful live).


I wrote about why I enjoyed them before, but that unfortunately was recently lost, so I figured I would quote myself again about the lyrical content and music video of their otherwise standard slow burn of a track, “Green Nocturne“.

The company says it’s a song about looking back at one’s youth without saying it was better or worse. However, certainly it seems like it’s saying that while you fuck up more as a kid, that’s part of living life and what makes it great. And now that you have to be an adult, all of that ends because you’re sort of afraid to do it and be judged, thus you’re now a dead shell of a human. Not that dramatic, but that’s the tone, hence the constant visits to heights and then the final scene at night with him overlooking the city. We all know what the inference is.

I rather enjoy tracks that leave enough clues to reach a clear conclusion, but don’t make it so on-the-nose that it’s shameless and treats you like a moron. Doubly so when it’s tackling common but important emotional feelings, and the instrumental and vocals set the mood appropriately.

Basically, their artistry actually makes their music, which I promise is not something I say lightly. But I do say it because they have a history of showing complete control over the track, the lyrics, and the music video to make everything fit together. I’m cynical when it comes to stuff like that, but Nell have consistently shown the ability to do this, which is why despite their lack of a mainstream sound or any type of banger or an earworm attribute to most of their works, I always find myself listening to one of their songs. I previously compared them to Clazziquai in this regard, and though I find Clazziquai’s work far more catchy, the same type of vibe applies.


Nell’s latest release, “Star Shell”, helps to add on to Nell’s legacy of fitting all the pieces together to make a quality product.

Obviously this is a more uplifting sound than some of their more recent slow burn type of releases, but again it’s for good reason as the song is about lifting yourself up, not giving in to societal pressures, and reframing failures as part of the journey. It’s especially impactful when paired with the music video, which shows people typically viewed as social outcasts as Nell sings about why they’re doing “nothing wrong” and to keep on living their life because fuck everybody else. I can’t not endorse that.

It’s a straightforward track, and probably not one of Nell’s better songwriting endeavors, but it’s not supposed to be some deeply emotional track anyway. “Star Shell” is just extremely effective for what it’s intended to be after all the elements of the release are accounted for. You know, sort of like just about everything Nell does.


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