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Review: NYC’s Push Ups Capture Youthful Angst in the Big City on Debut EP ‘Push Ups Was Here’

After releasing ethereal debut single ‘Uniform’ in 2020, Brooklyn based band, Push Ups are releasing their debut EP after a three year wait. Consisting of four tracks, ‘Push Ups Was Here’ encapsulates a melancholic shoegaze sound, whilst being on the edge of indescribable.

With a title that represents a graffiti tag for the band, frontman Grey Li has described the main theme of the EP as being about “navigating different relationships in a city of extremes like New York City” – this can absolutely be heard in the nuances of NYC grunge found within the tracks that are reminiscent of indie rock group Pretty Sick, as well as inspirations taken from band DIIV that lean into dream pop territory. These elements alongside the collaborative process with members of the alternative band Momma – Aron Kobayashi Ritch, who the EP was recorded with, and Preston Fulkes, who played the drums for the EP – have created a short but succinct collection of music that feels fresh and nostalgic at the same time.

Opening track ‘Doberman’ opens softly before quickly delving into the true form of the EP, with Li’s vocals weaving in and out of the layers of guitar and steady drumbeats, showcasing his emotions throughout the song which quickly plays out with the acoustic notes it opened with. The next song and first single from the EP, ‘Rosary’, is a quick display of endearment with a lighter but still alternative sound than the other tracks. The chorus is instantly catchy, with a confident bridge that leads to the final chorus.

‘Claw Machine’ is heavier and full of angst, which seeps into the instrumentals as the lyrics express frustration and defeat. The volume varies throughout, giving time for reflection before the narrative surrounding a broken relationship continues. Closing track and single ‘Twist’ also takes on the heavier guitar sound, with pensive vocals that speak of misjudgement, with the volume of the instrumental creating a feeling of anxiety in your chest. The track faintly plays out, creating another quiet moment for rumination.

Push Ups manage to pinpoint the waves of loneliness that can wash over you in a big city. The mix of electronic and acoustic instruments in the EP create a sudden quiet, resembling the feeling of being surrounded to being alone in an instant. The vocals sometimes feel buried within the instrumentals, creating a sentimental sound that reminds me of ‘emo’ rock music from the 90’s early 2000’s – these elements make the EP so impressive, as it easily could have been taken straight out of another decade.

‘Push Ups Was Here’ is an impressive debut that captures the emotions of angst, youth and feeling lost in the city. It will be interesting to keep track of how Push Ups sound evolves after the release of such an EP.

Listen to the EP in full here.

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