Null is one of those acts that were able to grab our attention immediately here at Buzzyband. The Salt Lake City trio’s debut EP 2 for flinching is composed of 5 brilliant tracks packed with strong emotional weight. The alt-rock indie trio is relatively minimal in their arrangements, with Val Brown (drums) and Chuck Pack (bass) providing a balanced amount of intent and restraint in the rhythms while Emily Parr (guitar, vocals) leaves her heart out to bleed with her songwriting. Their mixes are fairly uncluttered for a rock EP, yet despite that I could feel the raw and gritty emotion oozing from these songs. Null doesn’t use volume as a crutch for making their songs sound impactful, they let their honesty and pacing do the job for them – and it’s more than enough. It’s these things that left me fully engaged in all eighteen minutes of this record.
Opener “Air Supply/Weeds” is catchy yet deceivingly rich. The song goes through two main sections, starting with a sliding guitar hook with Parr unloading fiery lyrics like: “being with you is like inhaling smoke”. The second section is a heated breakdown with crawling guitars and pounding drums, ending in a sequence full of anguish and catharsis. Following track “Wrought or Rot?” is indie jangle flipped on its head, with its bounciness being tied to a ball and chain of minor arpeggios over woes of someone struggling with self-hatred.
The choice to leave a lot of open space for the vocals to breathe really paid off for these songs, as it enabled Parr’s heartfelt delivery to shine. This reinforces the themes of emptiness and self-destructive thoughts in the lyrics, which could have been easily drowned out by noise had they chosen to crank it up. “404” is a good example of this, as Parr drops some lyrical payloads like: “I’m no angel / I dream about killing you” and “rend me backwards, break my spine” – bringing with it vitriol that feels weightier than any distortion could accomplish. Be it a limitation of being a DIY trio or a deliberate choice, either way it’s what elevates 2 for flinching in my eyes. The EP ends with a cover of Bjork’s “Enjoy” which the band reimagines in their own contemplative style.
Listening to 2 for flinching, it’s almost astonishing how effortlessly these songs connected with me. Null is doing something special here. By expressing their pain openly, they sympathize with ours.