Toronto’s Growing Fins have evolved quite a bit since their early recordings dropped back in 2016 on Bandcamp. Those early recordings were pretty amateurish, even by underground emo standards. Things have changed a lot in the past half-decade though. For one, they’ve mastered a math riff. For another, they’ve gotten pretty good and slowing things down and allowing the momentum of a song to carry itself without being forced. There really isn’t enough said about the art of relaxing into a sound and allowing the organic nature of a collaboration between musicians to find its own path instead of being dragged there on a lead. I think that’s what characterizes Growing Fin’s self-titled EP more than anything; it has a solid sense of self.
Do you ever watch a house cat navigate a room? How they slink in and then bound from chair to countertop. They just know how to time their leaps and find their footing. That’s how I would describe Growing Fins’s balance of elements and soft-footed shifting between the warm, lyrical heart palpations of “Caelin’s House” and the subdued convalescence cultivated on “Yikes (Pt. 1).” There is a time to dive into the unknown while screaming your lungs out and there are times when you need to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling until you are ready to get up and greet the day. Growing Fins knows how to negotiate their needs with the appropriate balance of weight, speed, and self-awareness and it’s one of their strengths.
Of the other highlights on this brief but beautiful EP is “Highway to Heck,” a wondering, stumble and stomp down a winding staircase of checkbox patterned chords and wire-frame mathy rails, a track that feels instructive in its patient guidance of the listener through its many phases and chimeric planes. Then there is the long-legged scramble of “Pronounced Like Nikes (Pt. 2),” which sounds like a charmingly brash, pop-punk cover of one of Gulfer’s better, but shockingly, unreleased songs. And finally, there is the hilariously titled “… and then I hotboxed my washroom,” which begins with a vindicating exchange of shimmering guitar splashes before finding its way to a satisfyingly indulgent foray into brassy jazz a la Really From.
Whatever promises Growing Fins has made on earlier releases, they’ve kept on their self-titled EP, delivering a set of remarkably well-balanced fifth-wave emo that has a clear idea of where it is going, but isn’t afraid to take its time getting there. Take a walk with this album on your phone. Read some poetry with it on in the background. Or you can just lie on the floor and do nothing but listen to it. Let it help you find your center today.