The Nighty Nite is a spooky pop rock outfit manned by a handful of musicians from projects you may have heard before, including Shearwater and Wires Under Tension. But more than anything, The Nighty Nite is front man John Congleton, former lead for The Paper Chase and engineer for everyone from St. Vincent to Explosions in the Sky. The group’s four-track debut EP crackles with energy largely thanks to Congleton’s affected wails and dramatic musical choices.
The huge, distorted riffs and splashy cabaret drumming that open the disc on “Dimes in Their Dimples” have a slight Jack White tinge to them (while the title alludes to a different Jack), but the vocals take a more surreal, theatrical turn, a la Islands/Unicorns vocalist Nick Thorburn. “I should’ve warned you, but I’ve had a little time to make some enemies,” Congleton moans over the suddenly scattershot rhythm. The falling-downstairs chords on the bridge and building string beehive grow into a smash-up, cacophonous conclusion.
“The Silly Bag” follows, its clangoring, out-of-focus Halloween chords and surprisingly light acoustic picks floating in and out of continuity. “Do you think about my body? Cuz I don’t think about your soul,” Congleton smirks, playfully riffing on sex, emotion, and distance. Both the vocals and music turn from menacing to surprisingly fragile. The twists of offbeat, off-kilter mania that enter Congleton’s voice on “In My Hospital Gown” show him at his best, embracing the weirdness.
A cover of the Magnetic Fields’ “Meaningless” (revved up, distorted, and chilling, of course) rounds out the brief look into the new world of The Nighty Nite, hopefully leaving room for plenty more to come. To call The Nighty Nite dark would be to wrap them up too tightly. There’s nothing oppressive in this spooky pop rock, but instead an eerie, pervasive haunting. This disc represents a fresh voice, one that sounds like it’s been waiting in the shadows, learning its way, getting ready to pounce.