From a personal standpoint, the first third of 2018 has been a minefield of musical disappointment. Just about every release that I’d been anticipating has turned out to be a total bust. Jeff Rosenstock lost his edge on POST-. David Byrne gave us his take on the information age from the perspective of a confused geriatric on American Utopia. Don’t even get me started on the new Titus Andronicus, which I refuse to name out of spite. It’s been an abnormally desolate four-month period. So, if I were to overhear somebody complaining about there’s been “no good music lately”, for once, I wouldn’t tell them off—I’d actually sympathize a bit!. However, there’s still one question that I’d have to ask them— “Have you heard the new niiice. album?”
niiice. (all lowercase, period at the end regardless of its placement in any given sentence) is a Minnesota-based punk band. They just put out their first full-length record, Try to Stay Positive. Having seen niiice. live on two separate occasions and quite enjoying both sets, I’d already gotten to know some of the songs that appear on this record before it came out. Now, after listening to their album versions, I’m happy to say that my favorite tunes have been done full justice, with all of the energy and charm of their live renditions kept intact. It might be personal bias, but a lot of my favorite songs here are the ones that I remember hearing at shows —“RVR WTR”, “Ef U, Pay Me”, “Home Alone 2”, “My Floor”. All of the tracks listed above are pretty much guaranteed to get a “dude, who is this?” out of your friends if you put them on while driving around. I mean, in my experience at least. If it doesn’t work with yours, don’t worry—that just means I have cooler friends than you.
Anyway, the rest of the album is great too. As a whole, its very well rounded, and therefore has a lot of replay value. “Star Wars” has this dissonant, anxious guitar lead that sounds like nothing else on the record, and I absolutely love it. It’s totally there for a reason too! A song about waiting to go to work shouldn’t be all glistening and anthemic—it should convey the discomfort of that situation, which is like, the absolute worst. Over in the second half, we get “Maria”, a nice slow build that proves niiice. is capable of dialing back the volume and still kicking ass. I mean, to be fair, “Maria” gets loud too. It just takes a couple minutes to warm up.
Overall, Try to Stay Positive is a fun, varied and, most importantly, memorable record. Whether you’re more into pop-punk or hardcore, I’d encourage you to check it out (it kind of dabbles in both). You can find it on Bandcamp here, or just look it up on Spotify like a normal person.