‘Threads’ is the second full-length from indie outfit, Now, Now. The Minneapolis trio are emblematic of the ‘less-is-more’ approach, and that comes across in this 12-track put out on Chris Walla‘s (of Death Cab For Cutie fame) label, Trans Records. Consistent in their approach, the band have crafted an album that rarely confronts the listener; rather, it ambles along like the musical equivalent of a stroll at the dawn of a hazy, early Autumn morning.
‘The Pull’ sets the scene, swirling into ‘Prehistoric’ where the album truly comes to life. Similar to Kevin Devine‘s ‘Another Bag Of Bones’, it’s based around a solitary chord sequence that is built upon, thickening and thinning itself out. It’s a wonderfully well-worked song, its simplicity as blissful as its melody. It’s an approach that’s revisited a number of times over the album, such as in the punk-tempoed ‘Dead Oaks’. A choppy acoustic guitar is soon coupled with a soft vocal, and more and more is added over that same repeated riff before it strips itself back completely, all in under two minutes. It’s a neat little number, following on from previous track ‘Lucie, Too’, which has a Brand New-esque vibe, particularly in the second half.
There is a definite emphasis on the atmosphere of the album as a whole, with the intertwining of instruments and voices more effective than any individual flickers of virtuosity. That’s not to say Now, Now aren’t able; they know how to construct a sweet-sounding melody and how to use their soundscape without ruining it with putting too much into something that doesn’t need it.
‘But I Do’ stands above the other tracks, helped by a stronger presence from all parties – vocals and volumes are pushed, but the calmness is also retained. The way the vocals float over the simplistic riff is something quite stunning. ‘Thread’ is another track which leaves its mark on a first listen. The tempo is upped and it’s as punchy as the album gets, with the band delving into the realms of indie-punk. It dances along with a spark that is hidden amongst the fog of synths in other tracks. That sense of things being lost is something that dogs the album. Consistent rhythms and vocals that rarely stray out of their comfort zone may help create the atmosphere that encapsulates the album, but it fails to hold the listener in for the whole 12 tracks.
It’s a double-edged sword: while it does make those standout tracks more prominent, it can leave you feeling that the album is dragging. ‘Magnet’ is one of those standout tracks, with the ambience becoming disturbed by crashing drums and pulsating guitars. It alludes to opener ‘The Pull’ with its lyrics, just as ‘The Pull’ echoes within ‘Thread’, and serves as a reminder that this album is something to be viewed as a whole and, most of all, an experience.
‘Threads’ isn’t something that’ll hit you straight away, but immersing yourself into the album and its soundscape will allow you to pick up on some of the themes and motifs running through it. Well crafted and full of beautiful melodies, it’s got parts to enjoy. You’ll just have to sift through a lot of similarities to get to them.
Written by Ryan Williams