Now And Then is a pop-punk outfit from Shelbyville, IN, that sounds like a mix of easy-core pioneers New Found Glory and A Day To Remember, their metalcore counterpart. Fall Out Boy sneaks into the mix as well, thanks to occasional orchestral instrumentation and witty song titles. Lyrically, Quick Stops and Pick Me Ups is awash with themes that jaded folks, myself included, will publicly scoff at while privately reveling in their familiarity. It also helps that the language used to tread these old paths is, for the most part, poetic.
The EP opens with ”We’re All Meant to Die Here,” a short, dramatic piano and string instrumental that is equal parts beautiful and silly (the latter being the result of corny samples of thunder). “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a much better indication of what Quick Stops and Pick Me Ups has to offer.
The band attempts a subtle tone shift by blending the end of “We’re All Meant to Die Here” with the opening riff of “The Wolf of State Street,” but the short pause created while Bandcamp loads the next song is awkward. The song itself is well crafted and emotional, centered on the idea of having to confront the memories of a place you’ve left behind.
“A Lesson in Humility” has a super aggressive rhythm structure tempered by a bright, pop lead guitar riff. Most of the gloss is stripped away by the song’s last verse, and the transition is subtle and effective. The lyrics stand out on this track, in part because of how vague they are. However, the last line pretty clearly takes aim at the over-saturation of bands in the independent music scene, a comment on our current cultural climate that strongly resonates with me.
“Brooklyn” is my favorite track on the EP, mostly because it sounds like it could have been written by From Under The Cork Tree-era Fall Out Boy. It opens with the sound of a needle being placed on vinyl, a move similar to Fall Out Boy’s habit of opening songs with sounds (like the cameras flashing on “Our Lawyers Made Us Change The Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued.”) The song’s slow pace creates melodramatic atmosphere; vocals in the chorus are sung between a scream and a growl, and a punishing breakdown follows the song’s crescendo.
At this point the EP loses steam. “Swing At My Heartstrings Kid” has a cute title, but bland lyrics and music too similar to what we’ve heard already. Juvenile lines like, “All I see are ghosts with no faces” are reminders that Now And Then still have room for improvement.
“Read Between The Lines, You’re in There Somewhere” has an appealing build up, but zero resolution. This might have been less jarring were it not the last track on the record. As underwhelming as some of the moments on this EP are, it’s an acceptable first effort and pop-punk fans should keep an eye on them.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
*edited by Kate Erickson