Northeast Party House’s music is like contained chaos. It consistently feels raucous and wild yet incredibly meticulous and layered. While their explosive and wildly underappreciated breakout single ‘Youth Allowance’ saw them rattle the walls down with all their might, it is clear throughout their discography that the band have worked aimlessly to refine their sound while making sure it echoes the anarchy that they erupted onto the scene with. With album #3, Shelf Life, it’s mission accomplished.
Shelf Life is, first and foremost, dance music. While Any Given Weekend and DARE had dance and electronic influences bleed throughout them, the band removes the veneer and delivers undeniably club-ready tracks. Production duties were helmed by The Presets’ Kim Gordon, and we can clearly hear his booming tastes throughout – lead single ‘Magnify’ a spot-lit and synth-driven admission of love, which has basically been the M.O. of The Presets since the beginning. But, Northeast Party House have wild and untameable energy that can’t be contained or overshadowed and this album is no different.
Northeast Party House have something, honestly, reminiscent of the Spice Girls. Their music is unashamedly and unapologetically fun, they never take themselves too seriously and they have never let anyone try and dictate anything about them. That freedom and liberation have allowed them to evolve in a way that, on paper, is worlds apart from their debut but still feels very much like them. ‘Dominos’, an album highlight, is sweaty, thumping and glitchy, yet frontman Zach Hamilton-Reeves’ instantly recognisable vocals is what propels it.
The title track is a come-down anthem that taps into the speak-singing style of many great modern dance cuts. The whistles that precede the drop are hallucinatory, giving one brief moment to catch your breath before thrust back into the smoke-filled, laser-lit thick of it. It’s a meta way of acknowledging the band’s evolution – their party fuelled rock anthems are great, but now they are tackling a distinct change of sound head-on.
Shelf Life does have its vulnerable and unusually tender moments as well, much like a good party. Following the noisy and fuzzed-out ending of ‘Lose Control’, the band almost strip everything away for ‘Tear In A Club’. It’s a moment of reckoning with oneself that can’t be masked by alcohol, drugs and blue-light. It’s one part apology note for yesterday’s mistakes and one part love letter for yesterday’s highs. It takes off in its final notes with crunchy, extra-terrestrial synths reminiscent of Blade Runner – which means that it’s time to party once again.
Shelf Life is an album that pits the bloom of new love against the wilting of lost love. It bounces within this dichotomy flawlessly, where less deft hands may have fumbled. It circles the neon green and midnight blue of the club with the misty pink and burnt yellow of the walk home. But, above all else, Shelf Life is Northeast Party House’s best album to date and is bound to fling them to a level of appreciation and adoration that they’ve always deserved. The band have continued to be criminally underrated for years, but now they’re ready to put an end to that – you’re going to hear them, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to like it. The Northeast Party House that long-time fans have loved may have reached its expiration date, but that’s only because a more refined, more beautiful and more fun version of the band is ready for consumption.