REVIEW: Nory-J’s debut EP 'beyond me, i think' shows artistic maturity
If you’ve been following Buzzkill over the past few months, you’ll know we’ve been keeping track of Dorset indie-pop ingenue Nory-J. His three recent singles “Tough Cookie”, “Fish Like Me”, and “fairy dust” have had us looking forward to his forthcoming EP release. Well, as of this week, Nory-J’s first solo EP beyond me, i think has finally arrived. It’s proved itself to be a cohesive listen, with genuine pathos sprinkled throughout the easy-listening grooves.
The songs we’ve heard so far, like any respectable batch of singles, are the main attractions here. “fairy dust” continues to earworm its way into my brain since I first listened; I frequently find the chorus melody playing in the back of my thoughts when I’m working or walking to the store. Each of these tracks explores a different facet of Nory-J’s relationship with anxiety. While “fairy dust” is about dealing with social anxiety in a party setting, “Tough Cookie” and “Fish Like Me” show two different sides of anxiety within romantic relationships; how you can help your partner get through it in the former, and how a partner can make it worse in the latter. Where “fairy dust” helps you dance through it, the other two singles are more introspective and melodic to emphasize the preciousness of the subject matter.
With that in mind, “Fish Like Me” is the standout track. It takes the synth-led, boppable qualities of “fairy dust” and merges them with the lighter, softer-vocaled affability of “Tough Cookie” to create a sound unique to Nory-J. Yes, it’s influenced by city pop and bedroom pop, but the sharpness to the synths and the willingness to be frank with his listener in his lyrics aren’t always found in either genre. Despite being about an emotionally manipulative relationship, it is highly listenable, and because of it, it is moving and relatable. It’s a mature track from such a young artist.
None of this is to say that the remaining two tracks, “Life Support Never Looked So Good” and “Rice”, aren’t worth a listen. They absolutely are. They provide further texture to the project and add to the anxiety narrative, while providing more groovy guitar lines and floaty synths to chew on. The instrumental outro at the end of “Life Support” is especially delicious, conjuring an almost shoegaze-y feeling. It’s easy to imagine that track in particular fitting in on Spotify indie pop playlists. “Rice” is a similarly pretty track about being a member of the indie pop scene. It’s tongue-in-cheek and plays with some very fun genre-specific drums at the end.
Though beyond me, i think is Nory-J’s first solo project, it carries the confidence of an artist with twice the experience. Especially in his instrumentation, he manages to stand out among his contemporaries as particularly inventive and skilled. If you’re in the market for a guitar pop record with good hooks and thoughtful lyrics to boot, Nory-J is one to check out ASAP.