it pays to be niiice.

So, I guess emo is back? Bears to reason, between the general cyclical nature of things and the ever-present angst and urgency of youth. If self-described ‘queer punk/emo’ band niiice. is any indication of the resurgent genre’s quality control, however, I’m cool with traveling back to my tragic youth.

While niiice. (yup, three i’s, one period, no caps) definitely leans on emo’s building blocks – octave chords and strained vocals coax familiar melodies throughout their single/video “Ef U, Pay Me” – the band’s songwriting separates it from the cookie cutter groups.

For example, there’s a nice recurring minor IV chord – bear with me, I know I’m a nerd – that adds pathos to the tune, and the guitars get twinkly at just the right times, building toward each chorus with incremental dynamic shifts. The song’s “I’m young and fucked” lyrics are delivered with passion, the vocals nailing that Tim Kasher/early Cursive vibe.

Another band niiice. reminds me of is Lotion, a probably now-obscure musical footnote (they were subject to a landmark lawsuit between major labels back in the post-Nirvana sign everybody days) that wrote beautiful, heartbreaking pop songs. niiice.’s pop sensibilities are not dissimilar, and are to me what makes the band transcend genre-imitation status.

“Ef U, Pay Me” is the first single from Try To Stay Positive, which comes out April 14 via Hotdish Records.

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