Trying to Stay Positive is a jagged slice of self-aware punk-rock that sees niiice. amplify queer voices and feels like a call to arms that begs listeners to not let growing up bring them down.
I’m a big fan of when an album can take you somewhere. Mostly because I’m too poor to travel and don’t often get to leave the confines of my rural neighborhood if I’m not trapped in a small room counting pills for nine hours every day. Thankfully, I’ve found some solace in a new record from Minnesota punk-rockers, niiice. called Try to Stay Positive. The album’s sound and attitude immediately transplant you into the darkest and dampest basement on the East coast, where the smell of beer and sweat linger in the humidity and instill a sense of nausea and belonging that could only co-exist as a result of the punk scene at any point in time.
There’s a kinetic energy that comes through on each of the songs on the record, so much so that it feels almost sacrilegious to not have your first listen through Try to Stay Positive take place in its natural environment, bouncing off the cold concrete and punching you right in the eardrums. It feels like an undersell when I say that this record absolutely shreds. More, an abundance of riffs carry you through the album like an unrelenting tidal push, and the further you’re dragged out to sea, the more you find comfort in the warmth of the waters.
“RVR WTR” is where the riffage begins. It’s the first song on the record and, honestly, this is the furthest thing from a soft-open. The album tears right into your head and carves its own space in your heart by throwing you right into the thick of niiice.’s self-deprecative style of songwriting. Throughout the song, the narrator pines for the idea of days where they will feel accepted and like everything is coming up Millhouse, but the tired nature of these complaints isn’t lost on the band, as they later wail: “I’m just another sad white boy moaning about all his problems.”
Songs like “Star Wars” and lead single “Ef U, Pay Me” further capitalize on this brand of sarcastic and self-inflicted roasting. The former starts with this technical and buoyant riff that keeps you waiting for each ebb and flow and comes to a head with a moment that feels like a fourth-wall break amidst a sea of chaos, building around the line “I’m not perfect/You’re not perfect/We’re all fucking failures/But in the end, we all lay in the ground.”
“Ef U, Pay Me” is an anthem for anxiety and dissolved relationships. Opening with a cold, melodic scene of medication and preparation for the day that lies ahead, the track collapses around a disassociation with a place that once felt like home and watching as the faces of friends slowly morph into those of strangers. The vocals get the most guttural, and shake when they aren’t wailing lyrics like: “I don’t wanna go/but I know I can’t stay long here because I don’t belong here/Why won’t you say my name? Is it because we aren’t the same as when we first were friends?”
When asked about the record, Roddie Gadeberg of niiice. said: “Try to Stay Positive is a personal reaction to growing up into adulthood, and how life shifts in unpredictable ways. The things we feel as young adults, such as the intensity of friendships, emotions, relationships, loneliness, and independence have impacted us immensely over the past year.”
Trying to Stay Positive is a jagged slice of self-aware punk-rock that amplifies queer voices without making a spectacle of it; raucous and rough around the edges, the album feels like a shouty call to arms that begs listeners to not let the haunting realities of growing up bring them down.
Try to Stay Positive will be available everywhere April 14th and will be available for purchase here.