I always think that EPs can truly showcase an artist’s talent and potential more than a full album, purely because they have to constrain their music to fit a 3, 4, or 5 song time frame. Massachusetts alternative five-piece Northernmost uses their newest EP Pinedale to reel in their listener and remind of the sheer greatness of having great instrumental musicality, but to also be able to incorporate strong songwriting abilities. The combination of both of those talents are what separate the local band playing for kicks and giggles from those who actually have a chance of making it in the ever-changing and highly competitive rock scene.
It’s obvious that the band had a goal of taping into their listeners’ emotions and they used Pinedale‘s lead single “Milo” to really make that goal known. “Milo” is special kind of track that is the perfect amount of angst and frustration that makes you feel like you’re living out their life struggles with them. Its instrumentation and frontman Jesse Fields’ vocals mirror elements of indie rock, emo and even pop punk that gives “Milo” a Real Friends meets Silversun Pickups with a hint of Mark Hoppus‘ singing chops. The lyrics itself dig deep and are highly relatable to those who are going through life and just feeling lost (“back when I was young things seemed so much easier/ couldn’t see my faults and I had no shame”) while still being able to have that bitter breakup track theme going on at the same time (“I hope you’re sweating it out the way that I still do”).
The other tracks from Pinedale are perfectly cohesive from beginning to end with both lyrically and instrumentally. Starting song “Greenbrier” draws us in immediately with echoing, dream-like guitars and a consistent drum buildup while incorporating raw and untapped vocals similar to that of The Spill Canvas or Brand New. The impressive blend of aggravated wails complements its lyrics that dance around the relatively popular concept of throwing yourself into all these different things to mask your fear of not being able to move forward in life (“we both know that I work too much to get better at anything/that’s just an excuse that I give”). “Cloudy” is the ultimate epitome of an emo anthem that somehow still has a hopeful aspect to it mixed in with the obvious longing Fields’ words (think Mayday Parade) while final track “Afterglow” hints at the frustration of not knowing where your life is going to lead you (“”I’m always at war to justify/to justify the things I’ve done with my life/but if you show me a clearer path/I’m glad to take it”).
For being an EP, Pinedale is a cohesive set of tracks that bend genres and show Northernmost’s potential of being a big indie, emo, grunge, reverb rock hybrid band in the near future. The obvious incorporation of those genres’ elements in their music could feed into the modern revival of not only emo music but grunge as well, while their strong songwriting talents also play into the possibility of a successful and long-lasting career. In an industry where songwriting has somewhat diminished to ensure popularity, Northernmost is an absolute breath of fresh air. I wish that Pinedale was a full length release because it seems like they sold themselves short on their strength as a band in order to stay within 4 tracks. However, if they could give us this much power in just an EP then a full length album will be even more impressive.