New album: Nervous Nikki and the Chill Pills || St. Anthony’s Fire

“Baby, if you tell me its fine one more time // I will go crazy.” In the lyrics and video of Day Off we get a personal but recognizable insight into the family life of Nicole Bauza and her husband Doug Boice, respectively the singer/drummer and guitarist of Pennsylvania alt-rock band Nervous Nikki and the Chill Pills. Together with bassist Nathan Swavely and Kendal Thompson on guitar and keys, they have just released their new full-length album St. Anthony’s Fire, and it is as captivating and thoughtful as it is idiosyncratic and genre transcending. Apart from the authentic storytelling, it is the frontwoman’s heartfelt vocals – alternately singing and rapping! – that make the nine diverse songs here unique and distinctive. It works particularly well thanks to the loose musical backing, that is ramshackle one moment and groovy the next, with heavy guitars being deployed as easily as a sensitive harmonica. “There’s a chance one of these days I’m gonna write a hit song // And in the car while you’re driving you’ll be singing along // And there’s a chance the we’re never gonna make it // I ‘ll be happy by myself singing these songs down in the basement,” we hear in Here and Gone. As far as I’m concerned, several of these tunes should become hits – this album goes far beyond mediocrity.

St. Anthony’s Fire is out now digitally and on CD through Interdope Records. The title is the nickname for an illness prevalent during the middle ages brought on by poisoning from the ergot fungus found on rye. A drug derived from the same ergot fungus saved Nicole’s life a few years ago. She explains: “I was left in awe that something responsible for so much suffering and death could be used in a different way to save lives. Many of the themes in the album revolve around this play of cruelty and beauty in nature, surrendering to the roller coaster ride of life, and not confusing success with fulfillment.” That is also nicely depicted in the cover art by Catherine Hart.

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