Friendship - Love the Stranger Music Album Reviews

Friendship - Love the Stranger Music Album Reviews
The Philadelphia quartet’s first album for Merge is a communal attempt to make magic out of the mundane.

Human beings are not designed to seize the day and make every second count. At least that’s what I’ve learned from the music that compels us to live that way—celebration rock, festival indie, empowerment pop, all of it performed with an unsustainable urgency that concedes just how much effort it takes to go against our resting state. Take songwriter Dan Wriggins at his own words, and Friendship should be playing in any one of those styles, yet the Philadelphia quartet has carved a comfy niche making the bold argument to slow down and let the day seize you instead. “Meant to write down/What I was feeling in the moment/Thinking, ‘Man, you better get it just like it was/Or else you’re gonna forget it,’” Wriggins warbles early into Friendship’s fourth album, taking about 30 seconds to complete his thought.

That’s a long moment, and not much happens in it. Wriggins dreams of getting away, not necessarily out of town. He hears that a local cathedral is being destroyed and imagines how it’ll affect the person he’s singing to. All of the real action takes place in the past and future. Depending on your identification with Friendship’s slow-and-low lifestyle, it’s also the moment that epitomizes the appeal and frustration of Love the Stranger, an album that sees a higher calling in taking it all in—especially if it’s the boring stuff.

As their debut on indie institution Merge, the mere existence of Love the Stranger is a stress test on Friendship’s ethos, a 45-minute Big Moment. If Friendship’s previous album, Dreamin’, was meant to reflect the rejuvenating power of that one beer in the fridge after a long day of work, Love the Stranger is Wriggins splitting a six pack of the good shit for a celebratory toast. Each of the four core members of Friendship has their own widely varying solo projects, most notably, 2nd Grade, a band whose compact power-pop is an inverse of Friendship. Similar to Florist’s recent self-titled album, Love the Stranger is counter-programming to the pandemic’s ongoing challenge to communal artistry, rebranding a once insular project as a potluck. Each member plays at least four instruments and contributes production, while the album is split into proper songs and improvisatory interludes. The best moments blur the distinction—a sputtering, almost atonal keyboard serves as the instrumental backdrop for the intense heart-to-heart of “Alive Twice,” whereas the robust alt-country of “Hank” ends with a pawn shop guitar’s circuitry giving out, a fitting coda for a tribute to making the most out of our faulty tools.

It’s a subject that Wriggins knows well. His history as a manual laborer—Maine lobster fisherman, groundskeeper—often serves as inspiration for Friendship’s lyrics, delivered in a low warble to which an aura of Real Talk is often projected. Wriggins acknowledges how starved people can be for a straight answer in a time when indie rock has absorbed and misconstrued concepts of therapeutic empathy. “I was in a bad place but you set me straight with your on-the-nose-advice,” he recalls on “Alive Twice,” later appreciating a friend who refused to play “volunteer bodyguard” in “Mr. Chill” (“I can tell you stuff I can’t tell anyone else/Because you don’t threaten to help”).

Even if Friendship weren’t so enmeshed in a Philly indie scene where rawer, scrappier acts typically aspire towards rustic authenticity as they age, their pivot to outlaw country was inevitable; Wriggins’ recent Utah Phillips cover EP suggested a deeper relation to the philosophical underpinnings of the canon, and the mere mention of earbuds on “What’s the Move” negates any whiff of Lucinda Williams cosplay. Likewise, the brief interludes elaborate on Wriggins’ charming, yet unsentimental Americana: “UDF,” “Quickchek,” and “Kum & Go” mostly serve as prompts to recognize the vast stretches of the nation that can only be told apart by the incremental distinction between regional convenience stores.

Friendship do not engage in world-building, instead calling greater attention to the world in which we’re all just passing through. While always endearing, over the course of Love the Stranger, they can just as often feel constrained by a documentarian approach. A pair of white Vans or a Jager nip or a truck stop T-shirt can take on a symbolic heft in Wriggins’ lyrics; other times, “apathy joins me in the booth,” and an unwashed dish of grape jelly requires a significant reach to be a metaphor for a lingering grudge. “Heading out to the bountiful fields and coming back empty-handed,” Wriggins laments on “Mr. Chill"; for all of the rewards, Wriggins can't help but admit that trying to make magic out of the mundane can be just as exhausting as living every day like it’s your last.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Friendship - Love the Stranger Music Album Reviews Friendship - Love the Stranger Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on August 10, 2022 Rating: 5


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