On the 2017 debut Jump Ship, No Thank You frontwoman Kaytee Della Monica offered the kind of millennial snark heard from the edge of a cigarette with lyrics like "Still listen to Nimrod when I'm getting high / I'm twenty something, I'm doing just fine."
On "New England Patriots," the second single from the Philadelphia trio's upcoming second album All It Takes To Ruin It All, Della Monica is far less sure-footed. Written after the death of her father, the album wanders through her grief like an open house, taking stock of the mental furniture that lines her most recent memories of her father.
"On my last trip to see him, my mother had to run errands, and instructed me to listen to him on a baby monitor," Della Monica tells NPR. "It was horrifying. I never considered I would ever have to check his breathing."
If you've suddenly lost someone you love, you know that grief does not conclude neatly after seven stages, and that acceptance is not so much a threshold to cross as it is a begrudging signature on a contract. All It Takes To Ruin It All is Della Monica's no-thank-you to circumstance.
"And I heard you breathing / Inhale, exhaling," Della Monica screams between the punching riffs of the chorus. Each riff ends with a jarring sustained note, a space to catch breath at Della Monica's directive. She reaches for no justifications.
"I had been at a friend's house to watch the football game. His favorite team was the Patriots," she says. "Well the Patriots won by one / And you called me goodnight to say 'I love you,' the last one," she sings on the track.
"I congratulated him on his victory," she says of a phone call she had with her father that night. She was the last person he spoke to before passing away in his sleep.
No Thank You fills each space in between with a heavy question — each musical phrase at risk of falling apart, and always persisting.
Like manual breathing, Della Monica reminds herself to press forward: "There's a constant reminder in every song / And I can still hear you humming along / Always certain to get the lyrics wrong." Each memory a little cleaner than the last. Inhale, exhale.
All It Takes To Ruin It All comes out April 6 on Lame-O Records.