Carly Cosgrove’s debut LP, See You in Chemistry, is a fun polished new-wave emo record, both honest and lighthearted. The cover looks like a scrapbook art piece of city streets, which seems fitting for how the group describes themselves as “Philly nostalgiacore.” The music scene in Philadelphia is communal and interconnected. As bassist Helen Barsz said in an interview with Philthy Mag, “I think I would want people to know that we’re just a group of best friends who make art together and want to show that to the world.”
The titles of the songs refer to Nickelodeon series that Miranda Cosgrove starred in: Drake & Josh, and iCarly. Some of the song titles are “Gamesphere” and “Rue the Day.” This adds a playful and sarcastic element to introspective topics such as self-doubt, failing relationships, and personal growth.
“Sit n Bounce” starts the album off with a subtle drive that increases in intensity. Bursts of math rock guitar fill the spaces between the vocals in a satisfying way.
“Really Big Shrimp” uses beer as a metaphor for the trio’s relationship with their success. It reinforces their aesthetic in a comical way while also talking about more serious topics such as imposter syndrome. Gang vocals and blaring trumpets end the song in a celebratory climax.
“Cloudblock” stands out for its repetitive lyrics. The words “I only exist in extremes / Live well or live my dreams / Over-correcting my needs” become memorable after hearing them a few times. This kind of introspection ties together themes of the project as a whole.
Each song’s structure straddles the line between complex and digestible. The arrangements are unique enough to set the group apart and catchy choruses keep the listener engaged. There is more variation within each track than between them. The songs themselves stand alone strongly, but halfway through the album, they all start to sound the same. They share a similar vibe, which can grow boring after a while.
Usually with midwest emo music, the vocals tend to be mediocre and whiny at best. However, Carly Cosgrove’s vocalist, Lucas Naylor has a much more pleasant tone while still maintaining the stylistic grit.
The production of the songs are more polished than other albums of its type, but it still maintains an emotional rawness. Naylor also being a jazz pianist probably adds to the intelligence of the music. The newer wave of emo seems to be taking ideas from older emo bands such as Cap’n Jazz and American Football but making them more commercial. This sound is very reminiscent of The Hotelier’s Home, Like Noplace Is There.
See You in Chemistry seems like the perfect music to hear at a sweaty DIY show in someone’s basement. The tracks are upbeat and full of lines that a crowd would sing back with a beer in hand and passion in their hearts.