5. Now, Now "Saved"
I’ve tried writing this essay multiple times now.
The first time, I attempted to discuss the state of female-fronted pop in 2018, and how it felt mostly like a wasteland, save a few singles and that moment right before the beat kicks in on ‘breathin’ like ~2min in that I legitimately have had stuck in my head for a few weeks now, but never hit me when i first listened to the album (footnote 1).
The second time I started this essay I was going to talk about the Devinyl split with Kevin Devine and David Bazan, and how they both covered Now, Now songs, and how Bazan’s take on ‘Thread’ was, unsurprisingly, one of the most incredible singular listening experiences of this year.
But neither of these takes are fair to Now, Now, not like any of these essays have especially been about the bands or the works. I’m just talking about myself. I’m shouting into a mirror. I’m searching for a take because I don’t know how to write anymore and it scares me.
“I can only write if I'm emotionally inspired to. Since I was hiding from a lot from myself, I was having a hard time writing. So, I didn't do anything other than try and write that whole time for the album. My entire existence was trying to finish it and Brad was working on music in various ways” (footnote 2). This, KC Dalager’s struggle to find her place in this work, is simultaneously terrifying and yet, ultimately, encouraging--I think this struggle is real for anyone who tries to create, no matter the method. Finding your way to a conclusion brings a joy in accomplishment that has no comparison, even if (and perhaps especially when) the end result is wholly unexpected.
“Saved” is the best pop album of 2018, full stop. That feeling of elation I have for that brief split-second while listening to ‘breathin’ is what i feel washing over me with every track on this LP. It’s exploratory nature never feels so raw that it’s amateurish; the Now, Now family has existed over a decade and a half now, born within MySpace music, and the heavily-rhythmic guitar-centric early work has coalesced into something more modern, more immediate, even. There was always something trance-like about the ~3 minutes slow-burn build-up into the last third of ‘Friends With My Sister,’ the guitars creating a blanket of sound that warmed you, but it also kept you at bay. With “Saved,” that distance is no longer there, and you are invited in. It’s an intimate dance party, and the emotions are intense, but there’s redemption on this dance floor, and an absolution from our fears.