by Andrew Hertzberg (@and_hertz)
Like Not For You's 2018 LP Drown, the song titles to the four tracks on the Chicago trio's new self-released EP Drift are misleading. "Look Quiet" opens the album with dissonant guitar and a slowly creeping in drumbeat. Distortion sets in, Michael Dunne strikes disorienting bass chords, and the sludgy tempo sounds like Blonde Redhead ripped through a blender. Lindsey Sherman’s reverbed vocals range from high soprano notes to bloody-murder screaming. "Covering" clocks in at around a minute and a half beginning with a cleaner, arppregiated guitar over Pasha Petrosyan’s stuttering stop/start drum beat and Dunne’s wandering bassline, doing its best to distance itself from the rhythm of the guitar until joining together at the chorus. It's the shortest song on the EP and quick departure from the three other more aggressive and dissonant tracks.
The bounciness of "Hiding" is deceptive given its 7/8 time signature. The song builds through off-kilter and dramatic shifts, throwing curveballs of harmonization before returning to cavernous dissonance and fading out into feedback. "Last Place" returns to a glacially sludgy pace, and alternating between multiple time signatures. It eventually settles on a subdued 3/4 that builds and expands until an enormous and devastating outro. Overall, the short EP continues in the lineage of the bands that skew on the more dissonant and sludgy spectrum of indie rock like the Melvins, Shellac, or The Boredoms (or hey, why not Melt-Banana, Guerilla Toss, or Deerhoof for some other RIYLs). At the same time, they don't really sound like any of these bands. What Not For You does have in common with them all is exploring the limits of extremity and making a dark and seductive sound along the way.
Sherman's lyrics throughout can be hard to discern and purposefully at that. “The lyrics focus on the concept of "abuse of power" and the effect that it has on its victims,” Sherman wrote over email. “This is an over-arching theme that has also come up a bit lyrically in our previous releases Flood and Drown.” To that end, this EP works well as an extension of Drown. It's redundant at this point to point out that in 2019 there is no shortage of inspiration for writing about abuse of power whether in terms of the personal, the professional, or the political. Not For You is tapping into the unease, anxiety, and anger that is permeating throughout the world and translating that energy into a raucous, chaotic, and visceral set of songs.