Now, Now: Threads

now now, threads, death cab for cutieNow, Now: Threads
On Threads, Now, Now, the Minneapolis three piece (formerly known as Now, Now Every Children before the addition of guitarist and vocalist Jess Abbott), find themselves in a state of transition, piecing together a worldview based on their experiences to date and finding a way to voice that perspective. It’s an awkward place to be.
From the album’s opening, “The Pull”, on which singer Cacie Dalager intones, from behind a curtain of synth, “find a thread to pull/ we can watch it unravel,” it’s clear that Now, Now is over all these growing pains. Taking a page from the Postal Service playbook, Now, Now attempt to blend the sweeping, synth-based instrumentation of IDM with the traditional guitar, drum, and sad teenager lyrics of rock’s more sensitive artists, such as Death Cab for Cutie. In fact, it was Death Cab’s guitarist, Chris Walla, who signed Now, Now to his Trans Records. In many cases, the sprawling and anthemic compositions seem at odds with the intimacy of singer Cacie Dalager’s lyrics, which tend to be written from the perspective of the friend-zoned-and-longing-for-more and are sung with a staid enunciation that is, at times, not entirely convincing. When the combination succeeds, it does so because Dalager drops her guard and becomes playful in her vocal delivery, losing her cool and letting the words breathe. On “Wolf,” the highlight of the album, Dalager turns what could have been a throwaway “I can’t sleep at night” into the dramatic expression of teenage lust it was meant to be by stretching it with a melodic stutter to “I-I-I-I ca-a-a-a-a-an’t slee-ee-ee-eep at ni-i-i-i-i-ight.”
Dalager zigs where lesser songwriters would zag straight into emo territory. On “School Friends,” for example, she skirts the conventions of the oft-tread treated-me-like-a-fool-motif by telling her story in the third person, revealing the disturbing level of self-analysis that follows heartbreak (“she’ll be invisible, like you want her/she’ll try to do everything just right”). Though Now, Now have not quite reached a point of equilibrium they seek on Threads, the album is a strong indicator that they have the potential to do so.
Rating: 7.8/10
MP3: Now, Now “Wolf”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl

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