Nashville family band The New Respects went quieter than most at the start of the pandemic. Its members had hurtled out of their teens and into their first several years of dropping music and landing song placements and tour slots on the strength of hooky, muscled-up rock riffs, then began to embrace their inclinations toward effervescently danceable pop-R&B. After all of that, it was necessary to stop and reconsider almost everything. They had amicable partings with the group’s label and a sibling bandmate, and started producing themselves, taking greater control over their sound.
Drummer Darius Fitzgerald, lead guitarist Zandy Mowry and lead singer Jasmine Mullen have a newly clarified musical identity; the new New Respects are earnestly playful architects of groove-powered pop uplift. “Don’t Worry” is the first artifact of this era. Mullen offers sly reassurances over a brisk, lean beat, her sinuous lines made wispy and brittle by effects. Then her bandmates slide in next to her with precision harmonies and a synth bassline that’s all staccato syncopation, recalling gleaming studio craft from the dawn of the 2000s and earlier. The uncertainty introduced by the minor key melody and chord progression gives dimension to the invitation to brush away worries; the concerns are felt even as they’re banished. “We’re always thinking about what way we want people’s bodies to move when we’re making a song,” Mullen observed. “And we also just wanted to tell everybody, ‘Yeah, sometimes life is crazy. And when you feel the tension rising in your body, sometimes all you can do is let it go and dance a little bit.’ “