Album: The What Nows?! – Neglected Objective

Speaking of neglected objectives, The What Nows?! released on March 24, and here it is in early May and I am finally getting around to the quest to review the album. Honestly, saying it like that makes me feel a little less guilty about the whole thing. 

This is another band where their previous album (Misread Allegory, 2019) slipped under my radar, so I really had no idea what to expect when I first hit play. It’s a pretty good punk and ska album that doesn’t feel too third wave, but also doesn’t really push the genre in new directions. It’s good. Most of the songs have some sort of social or political issue.

The album starts strong with “1010000001”, which intros with strong drums, guitars, catchy horns and a thick bass line. This anti-ai track is probably one of the heavier songs on the album, but it definitely sank its hooks in me. 

From there the album goes into “Shut up”- probably the most catchy pop ska tune on the whole album, which features heavy ska beats and horn lines, and an ear worm of a chorus about not being able to shut the toxic thoughts out of your head. There is some fun tempo play in the song, some resolution building and resolving, and even a guitar jam before the end of the song. It kinda has everything and definitely makes you want to sing along- which is not necessarily the MO for the album.

“Broken Down” is probably late little more reggae in the rhythm and less serious lyrics about hating driving, but it does have a chorus to sing along with- “Is that a cop, is that a cop, is that a cop there behind me”. Anyone who hates driving at night can relate.

“Old Pages” is a little faster paced and honestly, the music resonates with me a little less than most of the songs, but it’s still great. It has some fat bass lines, plays with pacing plenty, and has some of my favorite lyrics. I can’t really explain why I don’t enjoy it as much, but I love the lyrics like “you hate being called racist but love how the shoe fits”- honestly, such a sick line. 

I think the issue with “Old Pages” was that the album was starting to feel a little monotonous despite the changes of pacing and even mixing of genres. But that’s why “Lovely Assistant” was perfectly placed. The track features Maude Carrier and Èmilie Plomondon on vocals, and is more melodic and slower paced at times than anywhere else on the album. The dual femme vocals definitely break up the album to refocus the listener for the rest of the album. Honestly, it’s probably the best constructed song on the album, too. Continuing to break up the album after “Lovely Assistant” is a nice smooth, funky instrumental interlude that definitely lets everyone in the band jam out. 

Anyone who has heard this entire album and knows me wouldn’t have any difficulty guessing my favorite track. “Let them eat cake” is exactly what you.would imagine, and is delivered with a quicker pace that implies a tension and animosity that the lyrics confirm. The bridge reveals a sexy trumpet and the chorus “it’s not cost effective to protect our civil rights, the bottom of the barrel regulate our lives, the greater the first to go by the wayside, those with nothing left are asked to make a sacrifice”. The song is an indictment against politicians of all stripes who use the people to cling to power, fucking over the people they represent. 

The rest of the album remains well within the scope of these songs. “Worth it” is about growing old in a band and the decision to keep playing when you’re getting older, a question every musician deals with at some point. The tracks are good, the song construction is solid, they are catchy, punk, ska, and reggae influenced, with some rock and pop tossed in. Solid lyrics all the way through, focused on relevant issues. Honestly, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard the band before now, but I’m definitely a fan now.

Written by Gimpleg