The Chicago music scene is going through a kind of indie rock renaissance at the moment, with bands like Twin Peaks,Whitney, and The Orwells all starting to gain the recognition they deserve. These bands have come up through the same venues as their predecessors, in the footsteps of The Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy, and Tortoise, paying their dues at Beat Kitchen, the Empty Bottle, and Lincoln Hall. Ne-Hi is the next to break out from the scene and spread the brand of melodic rock that Chicago seems to be manufacturing at a rapid rate in recent years.
Their self-titled, post-punk inspired debut landed them on the same bill as Perfect Pussy and Protomartyr at one point, but their sophomore record, Offers, brings brighter rock tunes that now more comfortably fit on a bill with Twin Peaks. “Don’t Wanna Know You” is a perfect example of this, a melodic pop rock earworm that clarifies the band’s direction and shows the maturation of their songwriting. If anything on their debut can be criticized, it’s the vocals – but Jason Balla and Mikey Wells seem to have worked hard and traded their prolonged shouting for legitimately solid melodies and lyrics.
Offers is also a class in guitar riffage. Throughout the entire record, their jangly guitars weave in and out of each other, concurrently at odds and precisely coordinated. “Out of Reach” turns extremely disjointed guitars into a really catchy tune that just builds and builds on itself. “Prove” is a classic Krautrock groove blended with classic post-punk lyrical confrontation, a highlight that just further demonstrates the importance of the rhythm section to post-punk music. On “Prove”, lead track “Palm of Hand”, and pretty much every other song, James Weir (bass) and Alex Otake (drums) establish very creative ground upon which to work. In all, the guys don’t get lost in cliché jangly guitar pop or the legendary garage pop of Nuggets, constantly working their instruments against and with each other at the same time.
Simply put, Offers is a fun album to listen to. Though there are many bands lately making similar music, Ne-Hi’s newfound song craft has elevated them above the rest of the crowded scene. The band has come a long way from their first shows at Animal Kingdom in Logan Square in Chicago, and we should be seeing them rise through the venue ranks, having earned their place in the city’s fabric with their sophomore record.
Ne-Hi is the next to break out from the scene and spread the brand of melodic rock that Chicago seems to be manufacturing at a rapid rate in recent years