The origin story of Milwaukee electro-pop project NO/NO is well-worn territory, but it’s worth repeating one last time: The group formed from the ashes of The Delphines in 2014, keeping that band’s sense of pop-minded, sinewy sexiness and giving it a synth-heavy twist. Led by singer-guitarist Harrison Colby and bolstered by the presence of singer-keyboardist Cat Ries, NO/NO released two stellar four-song EPs in 2014 (Drag and X.O.) and quickly established itself as one of the city’s finest bands. Now, that claim is further cemented with Sound And Light, NO/NO’s first full-length record and a gorgeous, multi-faceted statement of purpose that eliminates the need for any further talk of the band’s past. Sound And Light is where NO/NO begins.
Opener “Waiting For Something To Happen” sets the stage with Colby and Ries’ swapped vocals, Jeremy Ault’s precision drum pads, Lucas Riddle’s insistent bass, and a sensibility that splits the difference between washed-out shoegaze and club-friendly glitz. It’s a formula that pays off throughout the album: “Dark Side” scores big on a bittersweet chorus, “Television” goes hard on the goth-gloom dance club vibe, and “Two-Lane Blacktop” doubles down on the everything to produce a bleary-eyed tribute to life on the road. Though Sound And Light is as hook-heavy as anything NO/NO has done before, it tends to favor deeper, bolder methods of ensnarement. Both “Bad Habit” and “Two-Lane Blacktop” feature some of Colby’s most creative and evocative guitar work to date, while the stunning closer “Whatever” goes all in with a glorious, widescreen synth composition enveloping a heartbreaking vocal turn from Ries. All three tracks find NO/NO at its absolute best.
“Mature” may be a double-edged descriptor for an album, but Sound And Light embodies everything good about the term: cohesive, of-a-piece, comfortable in its own skin. The record’s eight songs are the sound of a band stepping out of its past and basking in the light of its future.
Sound And Light is available now on Gloss Records.