I’ve reviewed a lot of records now from Lauren Denitzio’s bands. First, The Measure [SA], and then Cruel Optimist, her current band’s first release. Over those records the sound hasn’t changed so much as it’s grown. The songs are now fuller and deeper. With Worriers specifically, though still in a relatively small sample size, the songs also seem less chorus focused, built around recurring musical refrains but not so much when it comes to the lyrics, which are most always personal and political, inward reflecting externally.
Imaginary Life is their debut LP and it’s a ripper. While it’s billed a debut, I used that intro because this band is so much more than just a first release. It feels fully realized here, ripping into an opening track “Jinx,” but it’s more of an intro with the true record starting on “Plans.” It’s a song with a direct tone, a big beat that starts up front along with the vocals, kicking straight into gear and moving the album along, later mixing up the vocal tempo over a guitar part that draws a new wave keyboard influence without the cheese, building up momentum and getting louder and more forceful as the song progresses. The drums also pull a new wave up-tempo feel.
Three things really define Denitzio’s songwriting. First, the structures: poppy but askew, always just off the expected path and often with a jarring moment that should destroy the rhythm but instead draws a powerful emphasis. Second and third, the lyrics, which are personal and always delivered in a heartfelt manner that doesn’tsing, but still shows more emotion than most vocalists are capable of. Within those lyrics are outright political reproaches as well as first person experiences. Song “Unwritten” pulls those three elements together beautifully with her lines:
If I could define or put into words
I hope Oxford omits us entirely
No one else should know or understand
It’s devoid of systematic rhythmic speech patterns, but from Denitzio it flows cohesively: smooth and poppy where it shouldn’t be and rough and tumble when poppy is expected. A personal standout and earworm on the album is song “Life During Peacetime,” a slowed down waltzy jam that takes on social struggle and community dynamics through a singalong tone lead by a strong emotional rise and fall that hooks and digs into the memory.
While I came to Imaginary Life as a fan, the praise dished out here is completely warranted, bias be damned. Worriers’ debut is a great record start to finish, so consistent that I’m hesitant to keep coming back to the fact that it’s their first proper full-length. It just feels too complete for that term.
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Posted Aug. 13, 2017, 8:36 p.m.
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Posted May 7, 2017, 12:46 p.m.
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