Weakened Friends — „Quitter“ (Nov., 19, 2021)
• Portland alt~rockers Weakened Friends return with their cathartic second album Quitter.
• Portland, Maine indie rock trio Weakened Friends dive into the honest truth of being a working musician on their new LP, Quitter, reflecting on lost friendships and self~worth swallowed up by burnout. Songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Sonia Sturino is supported by Annie Hoffman (bass/vocals) and Adam Hand (drums), filling out a mature and emotive sound.
• Central to the record thematically is the empty threat of quitting music and “getting a real job”. Sturino wrestles with her relationship with music on the title track, shouting “I love it, but it never really feels okay” over scorching guitars. Despite the implications of the title, quitting is not an option for the band. Even as friends settle into adulthood, Weakened Friends find themselves trapped in a fortress of their own creation, inseparably attached to the eternal youthfulness of life in music. In this liminal zone, life passes by and friendships are weakened, and Quitter takes plenty of time to mourn these losses.
• Chunky, distorted riffs support snarky, cutting vocals on “Everything is Better”, a tongue~in~cheek acceptance of one such broken friendship. Agile shifts between heavy fuzz guitar and softer, more introspective moments follow the vocals through tumult and triumph as Sturino envisions what’s being said about her from the other side of the conflict. Leaning into a perception of her as cold and uncaring, Sturino revels in the role of the villain, taking jabs like “everything is better when you’re not around”.
• Though the record acknowledges a perpetual state of arrested development that comes with being a musician, the band is anything but stagnant musically. Opening themselves up to ideas outside the constraints of their slacker rock sound, Weakened Friends puts the full force of their creative ambition into “Quitter”. Inspired by watching peers go above and beyond what is expected of them, the band sought to explore each song’s fullest potential, with their most extensive pre~production and arrangement work to date. Incorporating banjo, pedal steel, horns, extensive synth arrangement and a number of non~instrumental sounds such as ovens and camera flashes, Weakened Friends expand on their universe of sounds on their new LP.
• Sturino begins songs as skeletons, allowing the rhythm section to “pull every song apart and investigate every path they could go down”, as Hoffman put it. Focusing on the momentum behind every lyric, the trio squeezes each musical moment for maximum emotional impact. The album’s opener “Bargain Bin’ exemplifies this process, beginning just with Sturino providing a contemplative melody underlaid by wandering guitar picking. A sharp crack of the snare drops the rest of the band in, cueing in a lush swell of bass and guitar.
• Quitter bears Sturino’s vulnerabilities and insecurities about her role in the music world loudly and proudly, but in the confident and ambitious sounds that couch those fears, Weakened Friends prove their worth as a vital and exciting rock band.
Location: Portland, Maine
Album release: Nov., 19, 2021
Record Label: Big Scary Monsters
01. Bargain Bin 3:09
02. Quitter 3:02
03. Everything is Better 3:05
04. 25th 3:04
05. Tunnels 3:17
06. Planes 3:10
07. Spew 2:47
08. What You Like 2:55
09. Haunted House 2:20
10. The Last Ten 3:02
11. Point of Interest 2:37
By Dave Beech ⌊ 23 NOVEMBER 2021, 09:07 GMT⌋ Score: 9
• “If it’s all for a purpose / why do I feel so burnt out?” asks Weakened Friends frontwoman Sonia Sturino on “Quitter”. While it’s referring specifically to almost thankless grind that comes with being in a band, it’s a familiar notion for almost anyone who works in the music industry as well.
• It’s also the narrative backbone of Weakened Friends’ second record Quitter; the empty threat of quitting music to “grow up and get a real job” both a central theme of the album, and a recurring thought for those of us who sold our soul to the industry years ago.
• Indeed, while the idea of combatting a sense of arrested development by getting said “real job” might well appeal on paper, it’s also something that Sturino knows is better in theory than in practice.
• As such, Quitter is a record that bristles with both a fragile vulnerability, but also a defiant sense of self-awareness. For the most part this defiance is something to be celebrated, but it hasn’t come without its negatives either. Her drive and her passion have seemingly cost Sturino multiple friendships. It’s these which inform a large part of the record, with tracks such as “Everything is Better” addressing the issue with a sense resonance but also with the same wry self~deprecation that punctuates the record on occasion.
• Elsewhere, opener “Bargain Bin” is an emotional and emphatic introduction to the record and an early highlight, building from the outset, before culminating in rousing and cathartic conclusion. “Spew” provides a snottier scuzzier side to the band; the cynicism that’s been bubbling under the record’s surface finally erupting in a torrent of sweet/sour indie~pop that’s impossible to ignore.
• Certainly, the same could be said for the record as a whole. Though it might be called Quitter, the sheer urgency and energy harboured by Sturino, Annie Hoffman (bass/vocals) and Adam Hand (drums) show that they’re anything but. And while it seems comparisons to bands such as Waxahatchee or Diet Cig certainly aren’t unfounded, those acts peddle in a brand of indie~pop that feels a little more twee than anything Weakened Friends have on offer here.
• Instead, comparisons to bands such as Muncie Girls might be more accurate (despite the best attempts of album closer “Point of Interest”) but the reality is Weakened Friends are very much their own band, and Quitter is very much the sound of them coming into their own. A bold, brash and ballsy release that will resonate with anyone who’s worked in music. A late contender for Album of the Year? Definitely.
Label: • https://bsmrocks.com/