September 14, 2017

Stream: Nice Knees - Falling Into Sand

Stream the new EP from Cincinnati's Nice Knees.

It was the flashy, nauseatingly bright music from the likes of Charli XCX, PC Music, and Manicure mixes that christened the term “bubblegum pop.” It was supposed to summon puerility and sexiness, a lipgloss-coated teeny bopper blowing bubbles. If that’s the case, Nice Knees could be described as the mutated hodgepodge of bubblegum that collects on city streets. It’s bright and flashy, sure. Yet it’s dirty and spunky, picking up cultural residue and assembling it not as blemish but as aesthetic artwork. Equal parts ASMR and BMSR. 

Nice Knees is the pop project of Cincinnati's Bell Cenower, whose newest short release downright spews emotional chunks through a psychedelic haze of midi and psychic distortion. Falling Into Sand is a record that toys with memories and dreams, hoping to find some meaning in its messy glory. Nice Knees - Falling Into Sand... together the title is almost prose-like. Here, Cenower collects a sonic toolkit, or perhaps a dollhouse is more apt, summoning and dismissing sounds sporadically for her musical tales. True to a pop nature, Falling relies on the strength of its singles. “2 Much,” creeps its melodies in and out, borrowing drums from club music and complementing them with dramatic, repetitive vocals. It’s pop goes post-punk, emphasizing her most downcast emotions with a steady pulsation. The aptly-titled closing track “Come Down” is the longest and most rewarding of its peers. More gleefully embracing playful possibilities with her keyboards, Cenower builds to a glowing pinnacle. But beyond their structure, Cenower’s best songs are personal and sweet, akin to bands like Adult Mom or Tall Friend. It’s not always easy to tell if the dark, grimy elements of Falling are the exterior shell to its body, or if vice versa, the captivating swirl of colors like an oil slick hide its true intentions. Either way, the six tracks create a definitive dissonance that sticks in your head tighter than bubblegum to the bottom of your shoe.

Bell Cenower on Falling Into Sand:

"The EP is about coping with toxic dependencies. Historically, these dependencies have manifested in the forms of destructive relationships and addictions. With the process of writing and recording itself being meditative in its methodology, many of these revelations show themselves long after the fact; by contextualizing healing in sound, a recording process that oftentimes feels clinical and linear distorts into something emotional and abstract."


Listen to Nice Knees on soundcloud.

Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl