by Nick McGuire (@nickemcguire)
“Friendo” begins with waltzing arpeggios on the guitar and synth before these masterfully simplistic drums—more like electronic shakers than anything else—spin in. You move back and forth, your head lazily lolling around. That’s most of Shya’s Big Car. Mid tempo jams for good head bobbing. Shya is Nate Sher, a mid 20s human who graduated from Oberlin a year ago and decided to head to New York City. There he fleshed out his music project to complete Big Car, a bedroom electronic record that will surely soundtrack college pre-games across the country. With its wobbling bass lines, panning arpeggios, and expressive melodies, Shya has found stable footing in dance-pop reminiscent of Porches and Toro y Moi.
While he wears the Porches influence on his sleeve (when I first listened to “;)” I couldn’t stop hearing Aaron Maine’s autotune whine), Sher steps out of Porches’s shadow to craft subtle and beautiful music that feels all his own. Consider, “Friendo” again, whose drums swing slightly, or “Setting,” with its lilting vocals that cross over each other and show a clear pop ancestry—a Beach Boys beginning in melody and tonality. Consider “Moves,” whose guitar rhythms and delightful chime-like synths turn the anxious subject of moving out of your parent’s house into a fanciful path. Every time this song reaches the outro and slows down I’m surprised and enamored by how effective it is. I’m honestly impressed by how smooth and well-produced these melodies are.
“Coydog” is the most infectious of these triumphant tunes. “Met on the internet / love at first text / I didn’t have much to show / you didn’t care about that oh no” is the best ethereal, sweet lyric of the 21st century. Coupled with the shy nature of the title, and the dance pop vibes, the entrance of the slide guitar after chorus is a slight move that topples any doubts I had about “Coydog” as the jam of the year. The songs on this album all want me to play ping-pong while watching old Animal Crossing gameplay, but none more than this song—and I promise, that is the highest of compliments.
Sher’s vocal delivery may also be the secret to his success. With quirky and emotional lyrics, you’d expect some snark, but all you will find is deep sincerity. The situations and anxieties Big Car tails through these moody dance songs are real and relatable. On “New Balance” especially he lets the words lingers, each one taking up full measures as he sings “I’ve been trying to get back balance / been working on my form.” On “Friendo” when he sings “I was so satisfied playing scrabble with you all night.” His lyrics are often incredibly mundane, but that’s where the force of meaning comes from. I always return one lyric specifically on “;)”: “when you’re in your body / that’s all you need.” If you stay true to that idea, you will dance to this album everywhere and have some fun with it.