It should come as no surprise to fans of Milwaukee’s gone-but-not-forgotten Delphines that the band that quickly formed from the group’s ashes, NO/NO, has already released two EP’s worth of material. The Delphines worked at a breakneck pace—eight releases in two years—and NO/NO seems to be on the same overachieving fast track. Not that the latter is a mere continuation of the former: on X.O., the four-song follow-up to October’s Drag EP, NO/NO continues to make a case for being one of Milwaukee’s best bands in its own right. If the group’s new EP of shimmering, airy guitar-pop isn’t quite as strong as its first, it hardly matters: there’s always the next one.
Singer/guitarist Harrison Colby, bassist Lucas Riddle, and drummer Jeremy Ault make up the former Delphines portion of the band, with Rio Turbo dancer and Pleasure Thief musician Cat Ries assuming synth and frontwoman duties. It’s Reis’ presence that sets NO/NO apart, along with a more electro, ’80s-indebted agenda. That much is apparent on the winning opening title track, which combines Colby’s half-whispered Pains Of Being Pure At Heart vocals, Reis’ ascending synth line, and Ault’s newfound electronic drums to form a perfectly contained two-minute pop song. Things get dialed down to a mid-tempo, washed-out daze on “Crave,” and take a turn for the New Wave-y on the insistent “Red Flag.” Both Colby and Reis’ vocals and instruments play perfectly off one other throughout, especially on “Stay Awake,” which closes X.O. on a hopeful but bittersweet note.
At four songs apiece, assigning a rating to X.O. in relation to Drag is difficult, though Drag takes the lead solely for the inclusion of standout track “Mistakes.” The fact that NO/NO’s latest EP even comes close to that high-water mark is reassuring, though, and points to more excellent music to come in the future. Or, in this case, probably a few weeks from now.
- “Stay Awake”