February 16, 2016

LP: Nice Try - Nice Try

Nice Try’s self-titled lends us a hand in teaching us
how to grow up older, colder and stronger.

One glance at the artwork for Nice Try's self-titled record and I'm twelve years old again. This feeling is due to the tiny ecstatic hearts that run across the cover – they're nearly exactly the same as this love-shaped rubber stamp I used to have back when I was little. I loved that stamp to death – as a tween, I wanted to cover everything I owned in ink hearts: my diary, the inner margins of my notebooks, the backs of my hands. By the end of it, I had used it up so much that the stamp started to give in at the edges – eventually, I wasn't strong enough to push it down deep enough to leave a mark. It didn't work anymore; it was barely half a heart. Looking back on it, I'm unsure whether this was because of the stamp wavering, or my enthusiasm. I was growing up – maybe I was the one waring down at the edges, my elasticity falling away as I started to see the world differently.

Nice Try's latest record reminds me of this memory in more ways than one. Here's why. Nice Try is Madeline Robinson and Kahler Willits – a duo from Bloomington, Indiana. Their latest release is cooed harmonies, lively remedies, and buzzing along to a steady guitar. At eight songs long, the record opens up a selection of small lessons in reflection – each of them brushing past quickly, as nearly every track falls under the one and a half minute mark. With Kahler on drums, snare-tapping, Madeline steps forward with catchy choruses; lyrics tuning into feelings that step outside herself. Opening with fixed chords, "President" sings with bittersweet self-reflection: “I just need to learn what it’s like to move / fast / I just need to / learn to be / whatever I am to you”. Madeline sweetly coos lines like these, but with a sting at each end. As the record goes on, the duo picks up the pace. Proving they’ve learnt to move faster, the beat picks up, Madeline rushing into "Patience" quicker and tougher: “What you say versus what you do make it so hard to trust you / … / but we’ll work hard to make it good and never fall apart / just like it should”. Bursting from the seams like a pop anthem, these lyrics are harsh beneath the bubbly façade that is Nice Try. Moments like these are hiding in the midst of every one of these songs. Between the sweetness in this record’s teeth is a tongue full of life lessons: in reflection of growing up, on how to feel okay, and the world between you and who you hold close. It’s a reminder of how hard it gets to push that little bit harder when things get tougher as you start getting a bit taller. The way you know yourself starts to change – the growing pains kick in, and it’s often hard to push yourself to keep going. But the confidence of this record’s beat, with its upbeat harmonies hovering above it all, keep these songs encouraging. Looking back on those lessons, it’s like Nice Try are cheering you on to bloom; to push that little bit harder despite the rest of your world starting to fray at the edges. This record is the fix for anyone feeling like those growing pains are becoming a bit much. If I could go back and gift twelve-year-old me any life lessons, I would hand these songs right over. Nice Try’s self-titled pushes hard enough to leave its mark – I have the freshly stained ink hearts on the backs of my hands to prove it.


Listen to Nice Try on bandcamp.

Madalyn Trewin, a scrawny Australian teenager, who is feeding her obsession with dogs, David Lynch and Daniel Johnston twenty-four hours a day. If not that, she's writing about things she likes and saturating her friends in glitter so she can take photos of them to post onto her blog.