Artist: The Normal Years/Nervous Passenger
Album: Split EP
Release: March 3, 2016
Our Take: “Buy It”
The Normal Years grabbed everyone’s attention last year when they released a music video for their first single “Kill Me,” which came off of their subsequent debut EP Truest Bluest. Now, almost a year and a half later, the band is set to continue their resurrection of 90s powerpop with a split with fellow south suburban Chicago band Nervous Passenger.
With this split, they continue to modernize a genre made famous by the likes of Weezer and The Rentals. They do so by incorporating unpredictable, heavily syncopated breakdowns and more intricate drums like you hear at the end of the opening track “Every Time.” The drums set the dynamics on the following track, “Everyone is Leaving.” The song is mostly a repetition of the same three chords; however, the simplicity does not leave your head easily.
Though the charm of The Normal Years is in the straightforwardness of their song structures, they do incorporate complementary juxtapositions. The band spotlights vocal harmonies and switches between lo-fi acoustic moments that are abruptly interrupted with a crash of heavy distortion. The final song on their half of the split, “Who’s the One,” demonstrates the great chemistry between frontman Drew Erickson, bassist Julia Steiner, guitarist Clare Teeling, and drummer Stephan Jurgovan.
On the second half of the split, Erickson hands his frontman hat to Jurgovan, who leads the way for Nervous Passenger on an eight-minute punk ballad.
The record momentarily keeps the theme of finding true love. After the initial hard-hitting intro, a slower break reveals “The Slacker’s Lament” of being stuck constantly thinking of one person who doesn’t “realize just what [they’re] doing to [him].” After the soft bridge, the song picks up speed with a more straightforward punk break, with similar syncopated breaks that we heard on the Normal Years side.
The Normal Years / Nervous Passenger split comes full circle with yet another slower, twinkly segment followed by a Weezer-esque run. Though the release is succinct, the themes are well-demonstrated and accessible. Be sure to catch the split release show this Friday, March 4 at the Auxiliary Art Center in Chicago.