reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
“No, It’s Fine.” A response to an apology, maybe, but a loaded one. A careful turn on the crux of punctuation. An awareness of what someone else wants to hear, but a precise work-around so that your own meaning is there. And it is — in every song that No, It’s Fine. has included on their EP, there are layers of meaning: sometimes it is fine, sometimes it’s not, but you’re going to have to listen.
The Halifax band make “sad songs played loudly”, but their self-titled EP makes you wait for the drop. The record plunges in with the less-than-a-minute “Things I Need To Tell You That Make My Hands Start Shaking”, which achieves what it says on the tin, set to acoustic strumming. The track introduces a self-awareness and anxiety that carries through the rest of the release. Shaking hands make a re-appearance on the pop-culture tinged, spitfire spin of “Indie (500)” — which reads like an attempt to make sense of the messy ends that appear in life.
“Anxiously” introduces the members of the band before cutting to the chase: the song builds into a reflection on songwriting and relationships that ends with leaving. A healthy choice in light of the emotional weight. “Sometimes I find some chords that I don’t want to waste. I work too quickly and write some words that leave a bad taste in my mouth. Lyrics are hard. They get harder,” Cailen Pygott informs us. On “Zero Bars”, self-doubt manages to push to the forefront until Pygott declares, once more aware, “The best part of the song is coming up in like 10 seconds, so stick around.” The song lurches forward and he’s not wrong.
The EP jumps around in pacing, from the jangled guitar of “Zero Bars” to the spun-out lyrics of “Indie (500)” to the instrumental (aside from soft “mouth sounds”) “Interlude: Softly Now By The Fire”, but it all comes together in the well-crafted “Knicks”, which concludes the album. Travelling guitar lines evoke the Tragically Hip until the growled lyrics change the direction. By the time the vocals shift to yelling, it feels earned. There’s violence to it, but it’s unveiled slowly, carefully, and perfects a technique that felt lacking elsewhere on the EP.
Pygott strives for honesty in his songwriting, even when honesty is coated in self-consciousness. It’s relatable and mesmeric — and what else would you expect from a band called No, It’s Fine.
Top Tracks: “Anxiously”; “Knicks”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)