NONA first released their excellent debut LP, Through the Head, way back in Spring of 2013. Though they oozed the perfect brand of grit and vitality that powers the Philadelphia pop punk scene, NONA was surprisingly short-lived—playing their final show to a loyal hometown crowd in late 2014. As in most DIY scenes, a hole left by one band is quickly filled by another five and musicians often split their time and talent among multiple groups. Since the band’s breakup, NONA’s spirit has lived on in other formidable local bands. Lead singer Mimi Gallagher founded the band Year of Glad with a few other Philly punk vets. An hour north of the city in Flemington, NJ, Mike Haller formed the band Casual, Nicholas Harris joined All Dogs, Pat “Dos” Ware continued playing in Spraynard, and Ed McNulty kept up his role as bassist in Beach Slang. Luckily for us, most of the crew reunited this summer to release a surprise EP of tracks that were sidelined in the breakup.
Clocking in at 12 minutes total, Freaky If You Got This Far’s three tracks pack a mighty punch — the kind of punch that hits you in the gut and leaves you breathless with your head spinning. Gallagher’s pop-inclined vocals cut through an entangled web of guitar chords that draw on everything from sprawling '90s indie rock jams to tightly-wound emo melodies to the relentless repetition of punk. Heavy guitars on “The World You Know” propel the track’s matter-of-fact mantra for when the going gets tough: “The world you know won’t save you / When you feel you need a break / The world you know will break you / When there’s nothing left to save.” The witty circular refrain may seem bleak, but it serves as NONA’s existential punk call to arms for self-accountability and independence. The following track, “Sad Look,” harbors a similar no-bullshit sentiment. “Do you still believe the lies that you tell yourself?” Gallagher cries over winding guitars, delivering every word like a puff of smoke; smooth, thick, and acerbic.
The EP’s third and final track, “Water,” is the hardest hitting and most complex of the bunch. It might be because it sort of sounds like my favorite Pavement song in the beginning, or because of its turns into an unhinged monster right before the two minute mark, or because of the way Gallagher’s voice is layered in harmony at the end, but this song was a rare instance of love at first listen. “Water” is the complete NONA package and one of their best yet. The band may not be back together to record new music, but if Freaky If You Got This Far proves one thing, it’s that we shouldn’t let NONA slip away again without a fight.
Listen to NONA on bandcamp.
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Kate Leib is an illustrator and multimedia designer from New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter for more music things and pictures of her beloved rabbit, Bandit.