Review Summary: Seize the moment; restraint be damned.
If I had to summarize Now, Now with one concept it would be this: sexual tension. Now, Now has always been interested in the awkward glance across the room at someone you find attractive, fascinated by the moment in which you accidentally catch their eye. Their densely layered synths and reverb soaked guitars evoke the feeling of long car rides and not quite knowing what to do with your hands. If 2013’s Threads
was the uncomfortable tension of the first contact, Saved
is about seizing the moment; restraint be damned. Just like making the first move, it isn’t always pretty, but when it works out, it can be genuinely mesmerizing.
makes this immediately clear. Gone are the gentle guitar picks of Threads
, replaced with aggressive strums and up-tempo drum beats. Singer KC Dalager’s glossy voice takes control with simple but maddeningly catchy pop hooks all throughout the track. This newfound confidence extends all throughout Saved
. Can’t Help Myself
are both sparkling retro influenced electro pop grooves, with delay drenched synths, thunderous kick drums and snappy snare hits all twirling around one another. As Dalager sings “How could I see you with anyone but me?” the track pulses and throbs. Even the ballads have a sort of reckless energy; Window
begins as a standard pop ballad but warps into a faux dream pop soundscape by the end. Drive
is sleepy, but serene and seems to be one of the few nods to Now, Now’s past as a more traditional indie band, with it’s smooth rhythm guitar subtly driving beneath the tranquil soundscape.
has its share of stumbles though. SGL
sounds suspiciously similar to Set It Free
, both sharing the driving drum beat and the simple guitar accents in their choruses. The echoing keyboards and repeating samples of Holy Water
are pretty, but inconsequential at best and a rip-off of 2013 era Lorde at worst. AZ
is total filler, with frustratingly sloppy vocoder samples being used as a substitute for an earned musical climax at the end. From the “holy figures at the edge of my bed” in AZ
to the chorus of Holy Water
(“You touch me like an angel, but you kiss me like a sinner“), the lyrical themes of the divine throughout the album come off as a bit heavy handed, and sometimes distract from the much more enjoyable lyricism that focuses on the zealous energy that comes from making the first move.
It’s hard to understate how much KC Dalager’s performance will influence your personal enjoyment of this record. On a cursory listen, she just doesn’t have the range or intensity of her contemporaries. Her crooning alto has a way of bouncing off the ear on first listen. Songs like MJ
are fairly indicative of this; sometimes it feels like she isn’t actually singing a melody, but her voice has a way of playfully entwining with the instrumentation beneath it. It’s an unusual way to create pop hooks that isn’t always successful. Take the title track and Knowme
for example: they are both built around Dalager’s voice, but they both fail to really establish any kind of soundscape for Dalager’s voice to dance around in. In the case of the aforementioned tracks, it can turn into an aimless mess, with neither singer nor song clearly taking the lead. But on songs like MJ
or Can’t Help Myself
, Dalager is able to blend seamlessly into the mix as if her voice was an instrument itself, and her voice adds so much to the feeling of wild romantic abandon that pervades throughout the record.
There is a moment about halfway through the closer of the record, P0WDER
, where the song suddenly switches from being an airy pop jam to an apocalyptic, barren sonic nightmare. It is extremely jarring to say the least. I think this could be read as the moment when Now, Now finally tires of being the instigator, sick of making the first move. And that’s something I sympathize with. While there is a certain thrill in sending the first flirtatious message or asking for the first date, such constant social pressures can wear a person thin. Perhaps this is the most honest moment on Saved
, the only time when Now, Now isn’t putting up a front. Even if that is true, Saved
is still quite an enjoyable time; just realize that they aren’t quite as smooth as they want you to think they are.