If there are seven stages of grief, No Thank You might show you an express route through them. The Philly trio — composed of long-time friends Kaytee Della Monica, Nick Holdorf, and Evan Bernard — walks a tense, bleary-eyed path on All It Takes To Ruin It All, their sophomore release as a full band. As the brisk, yet heavy-handed follow-up to last year’s Jump Ship, the LP is densely populated with mental forestry and instrumental heft. Just listen to the closer, “Space to Grieve,” where doubled string sections percolate under buzzsaw guitar, or “Dash,” a single offering its best Built to Spill-via-Rilo Kiley: punchy indie rock shot through with a need to escape its own devices. It’s also an LP surrounding the death of Della Monica’s father, using catharsis to balance the weight of this loss and its gradual acceptance.
All It Takes To Ruin It All records this healing process with equal parts tenderness and teeth, with tracks oftentimes bumping elbows in the running order. “Hell Bent” and “Limitlessly Cheap” both tackle the discomfort of strained relationships, but the former expresses its bitterness in churning, downcast guitar lines, while the latter is skittish and manic. This duality is maximum No Thank You, where different sonic brushstrokes get applied to the same unsettling subjects. Other tracks, such as the brittle, meandering “New England Patriots,” find the band at their most reflective, allowing Della Monica ample space to reflect on her last moments with her father.
All It Takes To Ruin It All doesn’t shoulder its pain with cynicism, but its conclusion doesn’t offer much calm, either. When summarizing the LP, Della Monica rattles off a list of like and unlike terms. “This record is primarily about learning, growing, accepting, not accepting, etc.” This is a journey shared by friends through intersecting pains and life lessons. It’s not as definite as steps in a process would suggest, but it’s a vibrant, desperate appeal for recovery, relief, and the future.