By Mike Nason @ahemnason
I’ve been listening to the new Little You, Little Me record for about a week… more or less non-stop. It’s out today. I can’t stop. It’s, like, the sonic equivalent of a bunch of punctuation marks. It’s just !!?!!,’%?‽¿!;&^@!!. That’s what it is. It’s got caps-lock on. I can tell you that it’s really, very good. Just, like, stupidly, incredibly good.
For as long as I’ve known Little You, Little Me (which, I guess, is a little under a year), I’ve had trouble reconciling their tremendously giant live sound with their first record, What Have You Been Doing With Yer Time?. The record itself was pretty great. Many of the hallmarks were there… a sort of 90s pop dirge with obvious Dinosaur Jr. DNA shooting at you with fingerguns. I’m loathe to call it grunge but it wouldn’t be wrong, I don’t think. Great songwriting. Good tones….
The first time I’d heard LY,LM in person was when Young Satan in Love and The Trick played a show with them at Pub Down Under in Saint John last April. They were nice – mostly quiet – dudes. They stood near the front during our sets which I always appreciate. They kept mostly to themselves. Gavin Downes and I talked about guitars (we share guitar tastes). With a modest crowd in a weird and warm little venue, their headlining set was a force of nature. I’d only heard about how good they were from Saint John pals. Seeing them in person was just this delicious treat. Huge. Tight. Stage presence for days. Great songs. Monster tone.
The next day back home, I listened to What Have You Been Doing With Yer Time? and was surprised. It was like I’d seen a different band play live. It was more restrained than the live band. Less urgent. More hinged. I’m pretty sure some of the songs from the set were on the album, but the album didn’t make me feel like the band was sitting on my chest, making me work hard to breathe. It’s not even like the album wasn’t big? You know? But I wondered why I didn’t feel like someone just tossed me into a shopping cart and shoved me down a hill.
This new record, I’d Watch The Day Til It Died, is a perfect representation of the live band that has mercilessly bludgeoned my ears with riffs and hooks so many times since that show in Saint John. It captures almost everything essential about LY,LM except bassist Geoffrey Smith’s blatant disregard for the physical well-being of his bass guitars. From Corey Bonnevie’s barked and assertive vocals to Gavin’s more contemplative, gritty drone. Monstrous guitar tones, deeply saturated in buckets of distortion, and blasted through at least one New Brunswick flag. Excellent harmonies and/or gang vocals. Incredibly tight rhythm from Geoffrey and drummer Michael Milburn.
From the thunderous near-power-ballad (ha ha, I’m sorry) Eyes To The World, to the hook-laden Caught Between Us (there’s ol J. Mascis as a transparent blue ghost – like a dead jedi – just hanging out with the band in the studio), to the punishing, frantic, and crusty Bored & Alone, the album covers a lot of ground. Angular post-punk, indie rock, punk-punk (present-punk?), and maybe a dash of hardcore with a tasteful pinch of psychedelia? Yup. There’s this one part in the track Unwanted Company where a guitarmony soars up over the rhythm and I’m pretty sure it’s the sound of Siamese Dream-era Billy Corgan and James Iha smiling (assuming Corgan can still smile)? Anyway, that’s a good thing. It’s very good.
People talk a lot about an album sounding like a band has grown up. I’ve done it a fair bit myself. It’s a little patronizing, even. It’s a way of saying that they probably sound more like they intended… as though they’re leveraging their experience to make a better record. I think I’d Watch The Day Til It Died is actually the sound of a band locking together. The sound of a band after you pile on a bunch of shows and see the looks on people’s sweaty faces from under stage lights. It smells like Alpine. It’s a great, great record, with every track swinging hard and fast. If you don’t like it somehow, I’m going to suggest you should check your pulse. Maybe run around the block and try again.