Binghamton, New York holds a gem tight in its clutches, and it sure as hell isn't the branch of SUNY there (at the risk of sounding like a college brochure). It's a four-piece that goes by the name of Nancy. The phrase "wears their heart on their sleeve" is undoubtedly one of the most tossed around comments any writer can make about a song or album. It is almost never used correctly either, which only added to my dismay when it was one of the first things that came to mind when I thought about this record. Many artists never truly wear their proverbial heart on their proverbial sleeve or on their proverbial record for that matter. Most craft stories with their lyrics, creating characters and shying away from directly confronting their personal experiences and the sometimes less dramatic and more simplistic (boring) nature that real life events have.
The 14 songs on The Fear of Missing Out are melodic, technical, and truly catchy. However, this isn't another A Wilhelm Scream clone band. The band's love for Pennsylvanian pop-punkers Weston adds sweet harmonies to their songs and true earnestness that gets lost in the world of fast-paced punk music. Nancy prefers to utilize the deep, inflective voice of vocalist/guitarist Fritz Diddle and lets guitarist and harmonizer/main lyricist Phrank Martian craft the moments of true brilliance on this record.
It is becoming harder and harder to find truly awe-inspiring lyrics in punk rock (let's face it, Hey! Ho! Let's Go!). Phrank Martian's lyrics don't touch on the same literary base as the Weakerthans' John K. Samson, but Phrank cuts straight to the core of the human experience. A perfect example is in Nancy's passionate ode to a girl on "Excellent Adventure." It's as if the song was written in a high school history class, and it employs the same shyness and self-doubt that any guy has had in the history of female/male relationships. The song ends with pure lyrics perfection:
I want to be your World War II, I want to affect you, I want to be your Great Depression. I want to be your Cold War, I want to defect you. I want to make an impression, but I don't want to leaveâ¦To some this may seem like the cheesiest lyrics of all time, but I can't help it. I was hooked. The rhythm section is almost as tight as the guitars, and that is showcased on the technical instrumental aptly titled "Fritztrumental." In an interesting move, Phrank was allowed to be the sound engineer for the recording, allowing Nancy to fulfill their vision for this record and truly flush out their songs.
But whether it is the story of the loss of a friend or the flooding of his basement or his struggle with drugs, The Fear of Missing Out never feels disingenuous or fake. The open and forward nature of songs like "You're Dead and All I Got Was This Oil Painting" and the title track helps to make this album all the more special. Pick this release up -- it's the hidden gem of 2007; you just had to do a little digging to find it.