Reviews Worriers Cruel Optimist


Cruel Optimist

Worriers are yet another Brooklyn band to note, made up of former members of some higher profile DIY punk bands from the area. Most noteworthy in terms of sound is vocalist Lauren Denitzio, previously of The Measure [SA]. Obviously, her familiar voice and vocal style will bring a number of comparisons, including within this very review, and it should serve as a starting point for their debut 12”, Cruel Optimist.

While Denitzio’s vocals have always been direct and from within, Worriers brings it to a more personal level. They do so both by slowing the tempo just a touch from her previous band, by having only one vocalist, and via a lyrical approach that features more first person references. One of the strongest songs is “Never Were,” which has direct analogies to her youth and reflections thereon. Later, in the upbeat and closing song, “Why We Try,” the opening lines of “I used to…” continue that first person reflection. While the lyrics take Denitzio’s voice, they explore more universal ideas, not painting a picture of a specific moment in her life but in ideas and themes that transcend an individual anecdote. The tone matches the song titles and even the band’s name. There’s a sense of guarded pessimism and disappointment with an air of keep-on-truckin’ buried in the undercurrent. While it proclaims the negative, the music simultaneously bleeds positive and that contrast and complexity is what makes it special. The opening title track is a great example of this.

The music is still rooted in pop-punk. The structures are more complex than your basic Ramones-core, shifting tempos and building vocal melodies through Denitzio’s voice. It’s not call-and-response punk rock but any means, instead using a jangly, upbeat, and danceable energy that permeates through that pessimistic tone. Compared to The Measure, I would say it is slightly closer to mid-tempo and the structures are more straight-forward, letting the directness hit the listener instead of her previous band’s “to hear the melody through the noise” approach. As such, it also hits the listener quicker, whereas Measure records tended to take me a few listens before I’d warm up. There are faster moments, but there are also contemplative and mellow movements that mimic that sense of vulnerability that good indie rock can accomplish. Straddling the line between the two, Worriers delivers a debut on par with anything the members have previously released, and offers optimism for further releases. I just wish this one was a bit longer than 8 songs in 20 minutes as it feels almost like an EP.

7.5 / 10Loren
KFAI - Undead
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7.5 / 10

7.5 / 10

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