After learning about about Barely Civil embarrassingly late—at least for a publication that specializes in Milwaukee arts and music coverage—by way of the band’s excellent 2020 sophomore album I’ll Figure This Out, we’ve done a much better job at keeping tabs on the homegrown emo outfit of late.

Since that belated discovery, the band has helped bolster local shows and offer support as an appealing opener for independent acts of national note. We asked them to fill in for an installment of our Milwaukee Record Halftime Show concert series last fall and, around that same time, declared “Coasting, Mostly” (their first single since 2020) to be a contender for Milwaukee song of the year. As it turns out, that standout song was just the first taste of a forthcoming Barely Civil full-length, which the band will cast out to the world this week.

The band’s third LP, entitled I’d Say I’m Not Fine, will be released on Friday, March 22 via Take This To Heart Records. Despite the album’s name—referencing a theme of emotional uneasiness that permeates the 10-track effort—Barely Civil sounds better than ever on this release. A 56-second barrage of dissonant drumming, ambient guitar, and gang vocals on opener “I’d Say I’m…” emphatically kicks the album into gear, flowing naturally into “Floating Again,” which features airtight instrumentation, punishing percussion, and swirling solos that flank Connor Erickson’s clean and reserved vocals.

Aforementioned highlight “Coasting, Mostly” keeps the energy high for another three minutes before the album ultimately settles into a welcomed pattern of tempo and tonal shifts that bring listeners along for the ride. I’d Say I’m Not Fine capably vacillates through delicate and downtempo offerings like “Shifting Blame” and “Closing Doors” that let Erickson’s lyrics draw primary focus, as well as songs that originate from dour, barren places before building to cathartic crescendos (best illustrated on “Not Fine” and in moody interludes-turned-chugging rockers “Dwindling” and “Invading Space”).

Of course, we cannot and will not forget about “Better Now.” The second single is the undisputed high water mark for the album, as Barely Civil—along with an in-studio assist by producer Chris Teti of The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die notoriety, who also played a little guitar on the record—manages to synthesize the absolute perfect blend of emotion, lyrical depth, instrumental prowess, and an infectious hook to forge what will go down as one of 2024’s best songs (in Milwaukee and beyond). Aural anchors like “Better Now” and “Coasting, Mostly” allow Barely Civil to explore new terrain, while holding the album together in one cohesive piece.

I’d Say I’m Not Fine doesn’t need to be consumed in its entirety, but the album that documents ups, downs, doubts, resolve, highs, and lows is a more enjoyable and rewarding journey when you take it all in at once. Barely Civil will release I’d Say I’m Not Fine on Friday, March 22. The band will headline a Milwaukee release show at Cactus Club on Sunday, March 31. Magazine Beach, Overhand, and Known Moons will play in support.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.