At three years in the making, Novi Split’s Pink in the Sink doesn’t sound as dense or fabricated as such a lengthy recording process might lead one to presume. Instead, it is a selection of analogous indie pop songs that each, with maneuvers congruous but laudable, try to mask themselves. ‘Doctor’, for example, implores thick bass and faux hip-hop backbeat to mask its otherwise complacent form; elsewhere are keyboards and strings. It is a common and often credible technique and Novi Split cannot be faulted for the effort; indeed, though I find cause for dissent, an affable sensation for the LP has found me unawares, like George, the elementary classmate I didn’t like because I didn’t have anything to say to him but through association – in this case, we both (Novi Split and I) like music with melody – and time I found I liked him enough that I felt bad about not having anything to say to him.
‘My mother is getting younger / And it seems like she may be the only one,’ goes closer ‘Young Girls.’ The line calls to mind Dylan’s Ophelia, for her he ‘feels so afraid / On her twenty-second birthday / She already is an old maid.’ It is maddening that the (former) lyric is featured on the album’s most enlivening song, the song that is saying the opposite of the rest the record, that is, ‘Love is so sad, let’s do a soft country shuffle and have fun.’ The rest of the record saying something like, ‘Love is sad like an intense and inactive afternoon laying on the carpet staring at the tiny bristles of paint on the ceiling, thinking about X’s X.’
Pink in the Sink is indie pop in the sense that it’s rock songs without pomp – brass, choirs, distortion, rippling vocal muscles – and most of the gentle songs are sung about lovesickness, or sound as though they are. As noted above, the rhythm section is employed to give a pulse to the languid atmosphere in the songwriting (not entirely an affront) along with shakers and DJ scratchy-record effects, but the predominant tone is one of songwriterly passion and earnestness, which it transcends at times in brief and surprisingly engaging bridges and segues snuck onto songs like bookends. These are the album’s liveliest attribute, which prompts me to submit ‘Leaving It’ as its most impressive track, a grandly hushed fifty second intro, eventually stepping itself into a sustained groove with pretty harmonies, exemplifying the album’s climaxes as catchy parts that go on for a little while. The earnestness is at times off-putting (‘Crazy In Love’) like reading your own poetry aloud to others, but only off-putting in the way that George was; it’s not that I disliked him, I just didn’t have a response to anything he said.
After a dozen listens I was finally able to pinpoint a melody from ‘Voice Carrie,’ that had been on the tip of my tongue. ‘Sing to me, sing to me,’ it goes, an homage, melodically and lyrically, to Pink Floyd’s ‘Fat Old Sun’; it’s so blatant it’s almost a sample. I say so not to denigrate ‘Voices Carrie’ but to offer it as exemplar for what Novi Split has done here. After the homage (six seconds) the song turns itself away from where ‘Fat Old Sun’ took itself, and in such a way that I thought, ‘Love ‘Fat Old Sun’ as I do, hearing it go left instead of right really scratches the itch for a moment.’ Not that Pink in the Sink would make it alongside my Floyd records onto the proverbial deserted island, but Novi Split’s gradual pop passes like the most gratifying of afternoons spent staring at the ceiling, wondering when to start thinking about wondering what the hell to do next.