No Go Know – Time Has Nothing to Do With It

No Go Know - Time Has Nothing to Do With It

No Go Know - Time Has Nothing to Do With It

Time Has Nothing to Do With It, the second album by No Go Know, mucks and meanders through a versatile mix of spacey rock and pop. You might be bored silly on the first listen, but a little patience can pay off. That’s because the strengths of No Go Know’s album surface slowly, while its counterpart, My Morning Jacket, often yields quicker returns.

The Portland, Oregon based trio offer more quantity than quality here—the 18 mostly unexceptional songs on Time Has Nothing to Do With It span two discs. After an acoustic intro, the first disc offers “My Black Dog”. The song meditates on a fuzzy, simple riff that dulls after a few runs. But this track has two qualities that appear time and again on this album, often saving tracks that could have slipped through the cracks: First, blues-based guitar jams that push the guitars’ otherwise flat performances; second, backing vocals floating and buoying the mellow but sometimes meager contributions from the lead vocal. A big reason this band draws comparisons to My Morning Jacket is because of that vocal.

The spacey, 1960’s style pop tune “Thicket of Thieves” shows another side of No Go Know. The verse features an apologetic guitar riff that segues into a brief but driven little stretch of pop that rests entirely on the shoulders of an energetic bass line. The bass guitar ultimately turns in the starring musical performance on THNDWI. The verse drops into a fuzzy, forceful guitar break. After turning up the volume, the song lifts into higher altitudes. The album’s space rock jams focus mostly on guitar interplay that sometimes overstays its welcome, as is the case here.

“Yours Is a Small, Still Voice” brings yet another style change. Suddenly the band conjures The Talking Heads, right down to David Byrne’s vocal style. But No Go Know’s songwriting skills don’t compete with Byrne’s, and the vocal lacks his agency and intrigue. No Go Know runs through a lot of part changes in their songs, but only pulls off about half of them. Once the band settles on a part in “Yours Is a Small, Still Voice”, the song improves, taking an almost hypnotic turn.

While these songs are decent, they could be much, much better. No Go Know works well together, but something is amiss. Something unifying, something that remains ill-defined. It’s up to the members to figure out what that something is.

One of the album’s best tracks is “Our Bodies Will Float”, a cloudy, airy tune built on patient, reverb-heavy guitars and welcoming vocals. At 5 minutes long, this is a sleepy little song that reaches its full potential at the chorus, “Now we’re blessed to have people who care for us / And it’s alright to ask when everything goes black / Our bodies will float, yours next to mine / Our bodies will float, ’till the end of time”. With a lot of help from the backing vocals, this refrain is quite effective.

The second disc isn’t as good. These tracks don’t find those little gems that fleck the album’s first half.

“Good God” kicks off with a certifiably cool bass line that begs for inspired performances from the rest of the band. But these performances never come. Instead, a rolling snare follows, then a disappointing set of guitar riffs and a detached vocal. The band stays with this formula, and the track never delivers no matter how loud the band plays. At 4:40 the band finally hits on a heavy jam, but the song lasts 5 minutes, so this is too little, too late.

After that misstep, the band tries to go back to its strengths with “Is It Getting Better?”, another floating ballad of shimmering guitars, this time with hints of phaser effects with lots of reverb and a slide guitar. The chorus rests on a familiar, slow climbing chord progression, but the lyric doesn’t find the hook. Instead, the tuneful slide guitar and scaling bass lines steal the show. As a jam turns into a dragging interlude, this song finally fails and dies. Its obituary will be in tomorrow’s paper with the words, “Waste of time”.

“Life is Forever for Everyone” is the sole highlight of disc II. It starts with a fuzzed-out chord riff, sharp bass, and modest beat. After some tempo changes and a disappointing chorus, the song hits the breaks at the midway point. Then the band breaks into a funky jam that finally gives the rhythm section a chance to shine while the guitars take a back seat, making little shimmering sounds in the distance. This surprise is an impressive little chunk of funk. Later, the guitar takes the liberty of a wah-wah solo before the song makes a safe landing.

Time Has Nothing to Do With It starts better than it ends. Its creators, No Go Know, are talented, but still have work to do. This album suffers from many ailments: inconsistency, flat performances, and unrefined song writing to name a few. But the album also has its moments, and that gives the band something to build on.

The Union Records