Chicago band NE-HI offer indie-pop of the sort that seems effortlessly tossed off. On the band's second album, Offers, out Friday on Grand Jury, the group cranks out some fairly memorable, and always enjoyable, bits of tune-age that should please fans of certain other bands I'm going to reference here later. Read on.
If early track "Sisters" recalls stuff like EZTV, the far better "Don't Wanna Know You" offers up the kind of insouciant sonic snarl that fellow Windy City band Twin Peaks has sort of perfected over the course of the last few years. On the title cut, a burst of something darker rears its head, while "Prove" snaps with a sort of rhythmic appeal. NE-HI seem to be aware of the limitations of their sound which explains the nearly-tender "Out Of Reach", an attempt at a near-ballad, or the excellent "Stay Young", an instant classic as far as I'm concerned. At their very best, NE-HI find a way to channel the angular post-punk of a generation of bands with a lot of Fall and Pavement records in their collections into something more accessible. I guess you could say that makes them more fans of Weezer than the boys behind Slanted and Enchanted and, yeah, that would be a fair guess (though one could never be sure of such a hypothesis). That said, the music of NE-HI seems legit and, in small doses, it works exceedingly well.
There might not be anything entirely original here on Offers but the record's numbers all seem fresh. NE-HI have found a way of wading into this genre and cranking out tunes that at least feel new and full of youthful fire. Tuneful and surprisingly catchy, the cuts on Offers are uniformly solid indie-pop workouts with a bit of wit and sass underpinning each.
[Photo: Bryan Allan Lamb]