It’s been a month of video stills, quotes, and the date 03/25/22 repeated ominously, but it’s now official: new music from Run Home Jack drops next week. Now I have the honor of writing the first opinion on “Second Opinion,” the latest offering from NC’s self-described “chaotic emo rock” outfit.
Clocking in at 3:23, the single is arranged with the ruthless efficiency of a top 40 hit. One repetition of an opening theme intros the song, the chorus hits at about the thirty second mark: the only choice Max Martin could take issue with is the generous use of melisma in the chorus.
Two verses of this straightforward and cleanly executed, if not especially ambitious alt-metal lays the groundwork for the song’s memorable and satisfying climax in the bridge. Right around the halfway point is when the payoff finally hits, and it hits hard. After a brief pause, a pulsing, ritualistic tom groove enters to drive the rhythmic build into an extended breakdown, over which new vocal melodies are introduced and earlier motifs gain additional weight.
Lyrically, we’re treated to an antagonistic barrage of rhetorical questions – the diatribe of a dying man against an aloof medical professional, and the second act of an upcoming concept EP dealing with Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. The protagonist of “Second Opinion” is attempting to place blame and find catharsis through anger. In the bridge, the lyrics turn away from the specifics of his situation and toward abstract rage. The line that started each chorus now becomes the refrain as vocalist Jersey Neese screams, “who do you think you are?”
The song deals with personal emotion, but it still feels almost… political. Is it because the question marks at the end of nearly every line bring to mind issues of control of information? More likely, the medical imagery just evokes that one arena where it’s most obvious that fundamental issues of power and authority cut across both the personal and political. Set to a tightly produced soundtrack that ebbs and flows to the tone of the lyrics, the narrative comes through with an intensity and presence beyond the literal words.