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Into the Song: Now Now picks apart 'Thread'

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Now Now
Now Now band members: lead guitarist Jess Abbott, left, singer Cacie Dalager, and drummer Bradley Hale.
Photo courtesy of Now Now

The Twin Cities' indie pop trio Now Now will visit the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis tonight as part of the band's national tour in support of its latest album "Threads."

Now Now's evolving style features angstful lyrics sung over layers of fuzzy guitars and synthesizers.

As the Now Now band members dissected their tune, "Thread," frontwoman Cacie Dalager squirmed when asked to recite the lyrics to the song.

"This is like my worst fear," Dalager said. "I don't know. I really, I feel very naked.

"To me a song is like a whole song, and if I only say the words then I'm taking something out of context that was meant to be part of a whole. And then it feels weird," she said. "I can do it if you really want me to but this is like my worst nightmare."

However, the words deserve closer inspection.

"Find a thread to pull," Dalager sings forlornly in the first verse, "and we can watch it unravel."

"A hint of light in the dark," she continues in the chorus, "but only enough to keep from giving up. If I could go back to the start, to break the pattern forming between us."

It sounds like someone at the beginning of a slow, agonizing end to a relationship. But for Dalager, "Thread" is about striving for something that is painfully out of reach. She wrote it when the members of Now Now decided to commit their lives completely to music, in the face of an unknown future.

"That's just kind of how I felt about everything in my life at that point," she said. " 'Cause we were writing this record not knowing what was going on pretty much with anything."

"The thing about our songs is the lyrics are super-open," drummer Bradley Hale said, meaning open to interpretation. That's another reason Dalager and Hale prefer to avoid talking about lyrics — to avoid spoiling someone else's understanding of them.

"I think the point of our writing is to make it open to anyone's life to apply it to, you know?" Hale said.

Dalager and Hale, classmates at Blaine High School, formed Now Now in 2003. Back then it was called Now Now Every Children and boasted four members.

With the addition of lead guitarist Jess Abbott, the group became a trio and eventually shortened its name to Now Now — the "Every Children" part no longer seemed to apply.

In the beginning, one of them would write a song and it was done. Revisions or alterations didn't happen. Now, the three bandmates scrutinize everything they write, taking great care with each component and how it fits into the whole. Abbott can hear that alchemy on "Thread."

"The rhythm and the lead guitar parts coming together, I think are just my favorite part of the whole thing and the different tones and stuff on them," Abbott said. "And Cacie's vocals are just really soft and not in your face during this "drivey" song. They're hovering on the surface, and it just flows really nicely in my head."

One of the most interesting contradictions about "Thread" is how a song that is essentially about uncertainty contains such a driving, propulsive rhythm.

"Even still there's like a sadness and an emptiness to it," Hale said. "That's one of the things I'm proud of."

"I could make every song sad and I would be the happiest," Cacie Dalager said.

"I just like the interesting fact that the sadness comes out of this upbeat pushy rock song," Hale added.

While the sadness in "Thread" comes from yearning for an elusive goal, Now Now is starting to hit its stride. It's been written about in Spin Magazine, the International Business Times of all publications, and showcased on NPR Music. Late last year the group signed with the "Trans" record label, run by a member of indie rock darlings Death Cab for Cutie. Now Now has also just announced a fall tour of the United Kingdom.