Dec 19th Now, Now - Saved reviewed by @Lost Boy Every great album must take its listener on a journey of its choosing; whether unpacking an evolution of sound for the artist, transcribing a dedicated narrative or delicately weaving through carefully crafted hit singles and filler tracks, every great album understands that who you arrive as should differ to the person that leaves – touched and altered by the journey they’ve undertaken. A truly brilliant album manages all three: representing an expedition for all involved – a feat that Now, Now has effortlessly achieved with the harrowing and powerful ‘Saved’. The idea of the voyage spills out from beneath the album into the messaging and lyricism itself. At the beginning of the album, Dalager is rooted in painful nostalgia and sentiment, crooning “I want it all back” in ‘MJ’ - an ode to the great Michael Jackson – and “Holding up for you, am I wasting my time?” in the tender unravelling of ‘Can’t Help Myself’. Bathed in references to driving, back-seats, road-trips with old flames, the album thrives on a constant development and utilisation of motion – including the lack of it, understanding that every road-trip to nowhere also comes with breakdowns, side-stops and endless ruminating whilst watching the world pass by. It’s in these opening moments in which Now, Now first establishes the evolution from their much rockier and punk-ish past selves. With six years gone since their atmospheric, mumblecore sophomore album, so too has the sprawling pads, stretched vocals and heavy guitars. Opening with the immediate ‘SGL’ - an abbreviation of the ‘shotgun love’ affection – Dalager and Hale showcase every tightened bolt, with sharp production and a glitzy yet affective melody – an updated and evolved version of their past title track ‘Threads’ in every way. ‘SGL’ was to be our first preview of their new sound, released almost a full year before the album, the perfect choice to show how the band had changed and yet retained the same bone structure – the following single, ‘Yours’, would go on to show how the skin surrounding it had matured and aged in all kinds of delicate and exciting ways. ‘Yours’ is undoubtedly the heart of the album; the fluttering synths and continuous drum beat a perfect match for the smooth delicacy of the chorus – carefully unfolding and exploding in a sensuous declaration of love with the final minute. “I’m driving faster with the windows down, just to keep my mind off you” she coos, instantly transporting her willing audience to the cold passenger seat beside her. Together you are Thelma and Louise, careening out into the open air as the behest of your unrelenting emotion. Often times, the album truly feels like dropping into a moment of depersonalised wanderlust; an expose of every meandering thought we’ve all experienced, glancing out of car windows into worlds we simply pass by. It’s dreamlike and coy, drifting through similes and metaphors, settling down sharply with the more dedicated, built-to-be-hit-singles (‘AZ’, ‘MJ’, ‘SGL’, and the punchy ‘Set It Free’) In ‘Window’, we are stuck behind the glass – observers to the life on the other side – the song positively swirling around one simple but exceptional melody, only for it to be subverted in the inviting and downhearted ‘Holy Water’ - another sharp mid-tempo with bubbling synths and a subtle explosion of emotion toward the end. It’s a true testament to their ability to craft a succinct and exciting narrative that the slower moments can be grouped together without the album feeling weighed down by the tempo drop. The only lessor moment on the album is the title track. despite the ‘oh my god, I’m saved!’ refrain being one of the stronger hooks of the collection. It occupies a similar pathway as ‘Drive’, and yet doesn’t quite manage to maintain the exciting duality present in the rest of the songs. A confusing ode to a broken relationship that doesn’t quite manage to utilise the heavy imagery to anything tangible, while by no means a bad song – it suffers by being between the two best songs on the album. And never does the album feel more like a real evolution as on the wonderfully evocative ‘Knowme’ - a lightweight and minimal epic that instantly evokes a duality of leaving behind unnecessary baggage in the face of self-confidence, whilst finding yourself irreparably stuck in the mud of your past; that circular feeling of being trapped inside circles in which you can’t escape – every road eventually leading back to your childhood home, every choice a facade against fated incident – and yet, there’s a quiet power in recognising and accepting that fate, and a quiet strength in the very simple mantra: “you don’t even know me, you will never know me”. Not only is it the best song on the album, but it’s a triumphant peak for their entire discography – an achievement made even greater by the pure simplicity of the track. “Late night driving and I end up at my parent’s house”, Dalager opens on ‘Knowme’. It’s a simple enough line that conjures immediate imagery, a story told already in one sentence – every road leads back here. It’s one of a dozen powerful lines that manage to transcribe imagery and intent into the album without you having to stop and realise; “I got the seat back, windows up, just say it, I’m yours” (‘SGL’), “I’ll make it easy for you, baby. Remove myself from your equation” (‘Can’t Help Myself’), “You touch me like an angel, but you kiss me like a sinner” (‘Holy Water’). If we truly treat this album like the late night car journey the narrative would suggest, the opening run is that heightened euphoria of leaving home and not yet knowing the possibilities that lie ahead. On the way, we pass through foreign towns and glimpse people and places that reflect things we may have left behind. We enjoy ourselves with small talk and deep conversation, at the whim of the thoughts of everyone trapped within the car – surrendering to that open road. And in the moments winding the album back down, we come back to the melancholy in returning home, especially evident in the downbeat and heartbreaking ‘Drive’ - a direct contrast to the “windows up” of ‘SGL’, in which Dalager purrs about unrequited love being driven home with “the windows down” - and the quirky ‘Powder’, which encapsulates the feelings set before it before switching up into an experimental moment of release: “Crush me up into a powder, take me away like the wind”. All in all, it’s an exceptional pop album and statement for the band that isn’t being achieved by anyone else in the industry right now. A delicate balance of silky smooth songwriting, well-placed iconography, an emotionally infused vocal and an understanding that the slower moments have just as much opportunity to shine as the singles. Though the likes of ‘Set It Free’, ‘AZ’, ‘MJ’ and ‘Yours’ are perfectly designed to worm their way into your mind, the real heart of the album comes through in the quiet determination of ‘Knowme’, the rumbling desperation of ‘Holy Water’, and the painful melancholy of ‘Drive’.