ALBUM REVIEW: Now, Now – Threads

Written for the 405

We’ve come a long way to get to this point, although you might not have noticed. Now, Now have been chipping away in the lesser-frequented areas of the indie rock scene since the mid-00s, recording EPs and an album in cramped Minnesotan basements where their songs almost literally burst through the floorboards, so racked with feverish energy as they were. Threads is the trio’s second full-length, and their first for Trans Records, aka the record label run by Death Cab For Cutie’s guitarist, aka an imprint of Atlantic Records: so, in a way, their major label debut.

The pitch: Now, Now are a female-fronted Death Cab. On this album, at least, they settle into a rarely-diverted from groove of mid-tempo sad-jams, with some toe-dips into electronic mood-setting and plenty of vowels extending in low-key anguish. Luckily for us, Now, Now have enough personality to call their own, and frontwoman Cacie Dalager is availed not with Ben Gibbard’s voice – one of practised affectation and somewhat hammy acting – but with a sincere, sad lilt. Musically, drums provide a steady, calm heartbeat around which a nervous system of simple guitar, bass and keys is wired.

It’s important to note that the band, before shortening their name to a more basic admonishment, was previously known as Now, Now Every Children. The dropping of the latter two words was, according to Dalager, a way to “disconnect [them]selves from any childish image [they] had.” Threads, then, is an album about the sad realities of growing up. And in the process, it is a sadly “grown up” (with emphasised quotation marks) album.

Now, Now Every Children’s album, Cars (2010), was exciting as it was considered, as bustling with ideas and nervous energy as it was downplaying the emotional and literal youth of the people playing it. It was a bundle of contradictions and it was very sweet. (Not wanting to be a “I knew them when they were playing in basements to two people, man!” guy, but) I have followed this band since their first small-release EPs, and it’s a little sad to see them drop their perceived childishness (like Panic! At the Disco dropping the exclamation mark?), going for the “serious,” Gibbard-approved indie-rock dollar, and losing some of their charm in the process. That’s the sort of compromise that happens as you get older, I suppose.

So, we get an album whose sound adequately replicates the emotional torpor of the lyrical content. ‘Dead Oaks’ is a welcome exception to that, with some of former tour mates Paramore’s shimmering emo-pop energy to it, whilst retaining the world-weariness in Dalager’s voice that so well balanced out the rush of electronics they used to rely on. The song is, tellingly, the shortest on Threads.

“Can you still feel the pull?” is the last line sang on the album, referring to the opening track but, predictably, setting me up for the admission that no, I can’t.

5/10

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