Review Summary: Top of the line, fast food indie.
The conquest of the music market by streaming services is well documented. Homework pesters students, ‘clocking out’ is now considered forbidden—prepare to reply to the urgent!
9pm email surge—upload times and international updates are milliseconds away, pop records launch 15-plus tracks at a dart board hoping for a hit, the list goes on. A world that has been made so incredibly mobile understandably has led to a rise in those that, if questioned, aren’t necessarily scavenging for the entire experience of a disc, instead opting for a collection of favorite cuts to help struggle through the day, tuning out the demands of an accelerated existence. Tired after elongated work days, multiple individuals would rather the quick fix at the Wendy’s drive thru as opposed to concentrating at the house or apartment, picking out the ideal ingredients for a nice, home-cooked dish. Industries have to respond in kind to chase after that illusive attention span that is waxed poetically about as it seemingly drifts away; the rattle of shaking canes is unavoidable at any mention of ‘this younger generation!’ What then, if looking upon the local Chik-fil-a establishment, an idea came into the collective minds of Sweden’s Not Even Close? (There may/may not be Chik-fil-a’s in Sweden. Just roll with it). The young band opts not for a sprawling expanse, rather abridging what could
be expanded into a very palatable 18-minute duration. It defies the possible pitfalls alleged by the defeat of patience, simultaneously supplying concise numbers that can quickly integrate themselves in a ‘Best Of’ assortment. Chained as the listener is the to allure of hits and playlists, Not Even Close have presented an alternative that combines both realms in an engaging manner: the brevity of hits and their addicting quality, yet with quality worthy of an entire album’s runtime.
With a plethora of songs clocking in below the two-minute marker, the objective of Not Even Close becomes even more crystallized: figure out a catchy idea, develop it to its furthest extent in as little space as possible, then rock the f*ck out. Crossing over into emo, indie rock, and touches of pop punk, the small Swedish group emphasizes addicting riffs to snag audience attention with urgency. The title track, for instance, wastes no time in kicking off its summery aesthetic, beginning its 2:12 minute existence in a mid-tempo gait punctuated by a deliciously playful melody. Supporting the effort is a vocal harmony appealing not for its ability, but rather for its relatable quality; neither contributing gent will be discovered in a competition or opera stage. In pleasing, youthful baritones, the singing portrays an everyday sort of sound. If merged into the engaging chorus of “Lemons,” the tone is an outstretched hand begging for a listener to leap to their feet and sing along, banging their hand and calling out the lyrics. Despite its brevity, the eponymous tune manages to seem a complete, entirely realized outing, maximizing minimalism to its greatest degree. Later in the fleeting album comes the unsurprisingly short “Codependency,” its songwriting a microcosm of Not Even Close’s success. A rollicking guitar leisurely prances about, perfectly punctuating the cadence of the refrain. Though first demonstrated with restraint, the return of the chorus erupts in static and backing screams, adding a surprising punch to the finale while managing to tie it together with the start. In an even smaller form, like the succeeding “Rooftop,” the formula is still capable of enjoyment by being a fleshed-out concept, branching off of an upbeat melody and into an anthemic conclusion. No matter the length, the Swedes can produce an earworm, striking immediately for consistent engagement.
This delightful charisma allows for Not Even Close to flourish by ingratiating themselves with their listeners. Though only using the bare minimum of elements, the group was able to cobble together their hits into a series of foot-tapping romps. Stripped down in a rather bare production, all that is exposed for appreciation are pleasant performances that punctuate poppy motifs in a simplistic, albeit engrossing manner. It sounds less like a professional, polished collaboration and more akin to a gang of best buds gathering around some amps, hooking up microphones, and jamming away in someone’s garage as the neighbors complain. Lyricism that shouldn’t ordinarily work finds a home in the environment of “Dad Caps” and its driving riff, the understated drumming pushing the delicate textures of the tune onward, creating a mood that is both bouncy and in possession of somewhat deeper feeling.
**** off honestly, i know you call me your bestie, but you message me like once a month.
and even if you let your imagination run, it doesn't mean it happened and even if you make things up,
we're only friends because i have to pick you up when you've fallen down,
stay up until sunrise only for you to realise that "she's not your type".*
On paper, these sorts of escapades are deserving of disparagement. Despite that, there is something in how naturally the phrases are uttered that permits them to slip seamlessly into the framework Not Even Close lay out. It speaks to the all-too-familiar sensation of being used by a close friend, being surrounded by those that claim to be in support yet never actually emerge when most needed. Packaged in a mix that’s fronted by unassuming vocalists, listeners are more inclined to nod in agreement than feel discomforted by the honesty. This can be stretched to relatable imagery, the chief example being employed in the repetition of “your phone lights up your face in the dark” during “Codependency.” In a modern way, it illustrates the isolation that can occur in a relationship when technology places a distance, conversation interrupted when a significant other chooses their iPhone over the physical presence sitting across from them. It’s as Lemons
can get: short, sweet, and emotionally relevant.
Though tightly contained to 18 minutes of music, Not Even Close have crafted tunes worthy of discussion. They aren’t breaking new ground to an exciting, novel direction when considering their sonic output; it is all a sort of recognizable demonstration that can be traced and attributed accordingly. It manages to accomplish exactly what it wants to be: an instant, agreeable, straightforward fix that can work its way into the head of a collective audience. Rather than assailing the market with tracks aplenty, the Swedes amalgamated their strengths into a bite-sized format. There’s nothing intimidating about seeing nine tracks arranged into a record that could be over and done with in a transitory venture to the local market. The sum of its parts make it the idyllic choice for a warrior to fight against the streaming society that now blankets the world; it’s in possession of quite nearly every desirable trait an alternative listener would search for when craving songs that integrate into their particular sphere. Should that selfsame individual fear losing their lunchbreak to a singular artist, Not Even Close are guaranteed to encompass only a sliver of that time, opening the door for plenty of experiences alongside them. Perhaps it’s not destined to top the charts, but a number with the confidence of “Coloured Turpentine” is ensured to replay continuously for those that access it. Indie fans of all pursuits may rejoice, shouting, screaming, and singing along, no matter the time, the worries, the job, or the stress—just having fun.