The Obsessives – “Heck No, Nancy” Review

Posted: by Emily Dubin

Emo-punk duo The Obsessives are leaving high school– and hometown Washington D.C.– behind with the release of their full length Heck No, Nancy. With surprising depth for such a young two-piece, both lyrically and sonically, this album marks their exit from naïve simplicity and welcomes them into the complex world of matured composition.  

The lyrics in tracks like opener ‘Daisy’ are relatable, the struggle of feeling your heart being squeezed by someone whose chest your fingertips don’t even graze: “It seems quite frankly impossible that my writing would ever affect you like the way you buried me under mountains of mud.” Feeling your world be reduced to “one inch by one inch by one inch” just at the brush of their fingertip. 

Enticing guitar licks and incredible tone lay the framework for ‘Camping,’ one of my personal favorites. It’s filled with the all important question, “If I am my decisions, am I confident or timid?” and answers it with a definitive, “I am honest.” Feeling small and unimportant, amid the cymbal crashes and pounding of the kick drums, Nick Bairatchnyi sings of “zooming out on Google Earth” and how he “becomes even less significant.” In ‘Wet Shorts,’ sometimes it’s easier to be numb than to feel things you wish you didn’t feel¬– “You led me down a path of eutrophying swamps, the algae blooms got big and now they cover the top, I exist underneath them, it’s easier without feeling.

The album in its entirety is riddled with slow, repetitive progressions and echo-y drop offs; drummer Jackson Mansfield keeps a sonic spine from start to finish that sits up straight enough to not be yelled at by Grandma, but has enough slouch that you remember it’s emo/punk/whatever. Lyrically the songs are all relatively short, but run times range from about two to four minutes, and the minimalism in the lyricism is not to be mistaken for unsophistication.  

Starting their September off with a tour alongside Perspective, a Lovely Hand To Hold and moving to a new home in Philadelphia, The Obsessives are geared for a takeover. Under the careful eye of James Cassar and Corey Purvis and the Near Mint label, I anticipate Heck No, Nancy being just the first of many releases to come from these D.C. natives.


Follow Emily on Twitter at @emdubin