Album Review: Not For You – ‘Flood’

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not for you flood

Chicago is home to an excellent and thriving DIY community that’s been churning out some of the most interesting and captivating music I’ve heard in a long time. Bands like Lume, Slow Mass, and Nouveau are continually pushing the boundaries of structure and genre with their songwriting. On their sophomore LP Flood, shoegaze trio Not For You are redefining convention with their sludge-filled and chaotic collection of tracks. Currently featuring members of Nouveau, this iteration of the group, (which revolves around guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Sherman), displays a reserved aggressiveness that often times builds until it falls apart and sonically collapses in on itself.

The record opens with a voice sample and dreamy guitars as “Glass Ceiling” unfolds into existence. Sherman’s lush vocals are buried deep in the mix, yet have a way of making themselves heard when they need to be. The lyrics starkly contrast the warm textures created by the chorus-laden guitars with an unnerving desolation that draws the listener’s attention and keeps them on edge. The drumming on this track walks a fine line between being sporadic and infrequent, which makes for a truly pressing listening experience. The calm, brooding guitars are met with an all-out sonic fury as “Glass Ceiling” comes to a close and the noisy instrumental “current-ly” takes hold. “O” comes next, a boisterous and cavernous wall of fuzz and melody that resonates like the musical lovechild of Slowdive and Cocteau Twins. The band ventures tediously into odd time signatures that keep the listener on their toes and intrigued throughout the entirety of “O.” Following next is one of my personal favorites off of the LP, “Big Pharma.” The fourth and longest track on the record, “Big Pharma” makes brilliant use of dynamics and sits precariously perched between noise and 80’s pop aesthetics. The track opens with fuzzed-out guitars and driving drums similar to what you’d find in older Modest Mouse material like “Tundra/Desert” or “Lounge,” but quickly descends into a chaotic and noise-filled masterpiece. All convention is thrown out the window as the listener is bombarded with borderline intergalactic noise coming at them from all directions.

“ACAB,” the second to last track on the record, is a poignant and important track that speaks out against the abuse that many have suffered at the hands of law enforcement in this country. In the day and age we’re living in, we need tracks like this more than ever. With lyrics like, “We fall, we clean our hands of things we’ve done. Violence proves we wait for truth and I’m counting the ones, they died.  He craves more power. Man calls out for more. We want to keep you safe and you believed me. We lied,” it’s clear that the unrest is affecting us on a deeper level than most would like to admit, which is why it’s so important to have tracks like this to publicly speak out in protest against a morally corrupt system. Sherman’s vocals are sharp and piercing, but most of all commanding. Sherman has a knack for creating vocal lines that starkly contrast the instrumentals, which is something a good number of bands in the genre have a tough time achieving. A lot of the time it’s easy to lose the vocals in the mix in shoegaze/dreampop music, but this certainly isn’t the case for Not For You. The record comes to a close with “(man)euver,” a wonderful exercise in the band’s dreamier catalogue that details the fear all women are innately forced to carry with themselves in a society such as ours.

Not For You has a way of creating music that makes you feel like you’ve known it your whole life. It is wholesomely welcoming and entirely nostalgic, though it stays refreshing enough in its approach so as not to lose the listener’s attention.  Throughout Flood, the band crafts a specific sound entirely their own and speaks out for the oppressed in a time when it’s more important than ever to do so. If you enjoy dreamy and sludge-filled shoegaze or bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, Slowdive, and Cocteau Twins, you will love Not For You. If you like what you hear, you can purchase “Flood” on cassette from the band’s bandcamp, courtesy of Grandpa Bay Records.


-AJ Boundy-