Nothing is as it seems in regards to No Thank You John, with musician John Cotton using this moniker to indulge in his lo-fi electronic pop impulses while never laying down roots in any particular genre. The woozy rhythms and spellbinding melodies laid out in his work seem to override the body’s natural defenses, allowing for a complete takeover of sense and sensation. Synths spin and weave into a complex synthesis of musical instinct and experience. Equal parts headphone internalization and dancefloor euphoria, his work sparks the connections throughout your nervous system.
Across the 5 tracks of his latest EP, “Dark,” Cotton casually lights up the night sky with vibrant beats and synths that mesmerize and cloud your judgment. As the slow burn of opening song, “Dance on the Ceiling,” grows in intensity, you begin to feel your extremities anticipating their next movements and relinquishing control. His voice is processed, a series of echoes in this confined space, but still retains a core emotionality which holds everything together. “Close” is a star streaking across the dark canvas of the night, warbling rhythms and kaleidoscopic arrangements lacing the heavens with a neon intensity.
Other tracks like “Turn It Off” and “Bottom” highlight his ability to transcend synth-pop stereotypes and build a sound that is synthetic in appearance but evokes an honestly organic response. Everything is dependent on the music’s capacity to draw out these heartfelt emotions while being surrounded by a certain artificiality. But there’s nothing false here; everything is earned. Cotton puts in the time and effort to bring us into his world and the resulting submersion is complete and compelling.
He closes out the record with “Dark,” a song that could easily have found itself on the best albums from Phoenix or Passion Pit. It rises, allowing us to glimpse the full majesty of its origins, and sustains itself through a web of metallic harmonies and liquid synth arrangements. It’s chilling but not cold, a song that invites investigation but doesn’t beg for attention. And it’s a perfect way to close out this EP, which finds Cotton moving forward and continuing to adapt and evolve his own insular synth-based experimentation. There’s a whole world here to explore, and you’ll find yourself coming back to visit often.