Now, Now - Neighbors (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Now, Now

Neighbors (2010)

No Sleep

Now, Now Every Children was a name apparently too convoluted and grammatically incorrect for its members to withstand. So after a lineup change or two and some fat trimmed, Now, Now have emerged with a new EP to bless the namesake and another reason to marvel at the respectable diversity of the No Sleep Records roster.

The band remains their core selves, though: a (very) young act playing heartfelt, melodic indie pop in the vein of Eisley. Last year's debut LP, Cars was a well-written diary in aural, mid-fi form. Neighbors is a careful improvement in most regards, but especially production, which gives luminescence to all the band's ever-refining traits, and a new confidence in their delivery.

Intro opener "Rebuild" has a few glitchy electronics and Cacie Dalager's soft, manipulated "oh"s, making it sound like a new Postal Service demo at first. But then it transitions into "Giants," a big, bustling and fuzzy yet modest rocker with the busy, slightly distressed atmosphere of the Get Up Kids circa Guilt Show or major label-era Death Cab for Cutie. One line suggests the band's parlaying the foreclosure scandal into personal meaning: "You can take your our homes / but your framework doesn't hold / against the feet of us giants." You'd like to think the band's got some sly socially aware foundation, anyway. But the melodies and overall presentation, make it maybe the band's best, most mature and well-honed song to date.

The other songs pale in comparison, but they're hardly bad. "Jesus Camp," perhaps referencing the horror documentary of the same name, is a building ballad of fussy programming, muffled keys and Dalager's hushed narration, like a better version of what one might have heard on Cars.

Tacked on are bonus acoustic cuts of "Giants" and the title track, bringing super crisp strums and Dalager's pretty, lilting voice to the forefront. (Shakers, tambourine and such spruce up the space on the latter, though.) The songs also allow the EP to end in a quieter and less dramatic fashion. But the overarching feel of Neighbors is a busier, well-crafted and taut sound that necessitates a level of anticipation for the band's sophomore full-length.