I freely admit that Worriers was one of those bands I should have known much more about prior to attending the Fest last year. Missing out on their appearance in Gainesville is quickly becoming my biggest regret. Luckily, it looks like I’ll be able to rectify that in short order as they are embarking on a tour with Brian Fallon in support of this, their latest album, You or Someone You Know.
Arriving relatively late to the band, however, has given me the option of listening to this record with very few expectations. In fact, listening to the teaser singles for it alongside some of their older material made the new songs more impactful. Just listening to “The Only Claude That Matters” (from 2013’s Cruel Optimist), “They/Them/Theirs” (2015’s Imaginary Life), “WTF is Sleep” (2017’s Survival Pop), and this album’s “Big Feelings” gives off the sensation of almost being able to viscerally feel that band’s through-line from the beginning to where they’ve arrived now. Being able to sort of flash-forward through the band’s evolution felt sort of like having four years’ worth of Christmas presents to open in the middle of March.
One of the things that I immediately took note of is sort of how the band’s sound stays familiar enough throughout that, if you weren’t listening to it all together in the space of a few hours, one after the other, you might miss out on some of the subtlely evolving touches between each record. The more I listened to this album, though, the more one thought tugged at me over and over. “Is this, possibly, an offshoot from the Weakerthans small garden of literary observations of life disguised as punk rock?” The frank nature of Lauren Denitzio’s lyrics, the choices the band makes in the dynamics of many of the songs, and even some of the jangle evident in tracks like “Terrible Boyfriend” sure point in that direction. Perhaps I just imagined it but I certainly hear a hint of “Aside” in “Big Feelings” or the potential for “PWR CPLE” to turn into a cover of “Exiles Among You”.
That’s not at all to say that this band isn’t creating some new, beautiful, and original noise in the world of punk rock. By all accounts, they are. If anything, it’s complimentary in noting any likeness to one of the rarer types of bands we ever did see grace what we ostensibly consider to be “punk”. From the charming intro that is “End of the World” and its lament on “pass(ing) judgments on NASCAR and shitty coffee” to the defiant, if dispirited, denouement of “Grand Closing” that starts out feeling kind of like vintage Cat Power, what we have here is an astonishing work in today’s punk scene.
One of the things that other band did was in managing to maintain ready credibility with much of the punk scene. They were “that band” that no matter what off-shoot of the scene you considered “home” it was still ok, if not actually cool, to like and appreciate them. After seeing the wide swathe of people Worriers attracted in Gainesville, it’s safe to say they are well on their way to being that for this generation. Let’s just hope their output continues at current rates and perhaps sticks around a bit longer, for everyone’s sake.
The interpersonal conflicts that Denitzio so deftly chronicles on this album are universal and the music that backs it up is bound to hit even the most jaded ears (bitter?)sweetly. One of the most fun moments on the album is the somewhat unexpected “Relentless Noise” that manages to feature a bridge that is notable for the guitar solo, understated and almost reminiscent of Thin Lizzy in tone. But I think perhaps that’s the key to Worriers and their newest album. No matter who or what type of musical memories and footnotes it brings up for you, it’s bound to leave you feeling some kind of way. And that way is most likely to be hitting play from the top again. As Denitzio sings on the fantastically titled “Chicago Style Pizza is Terrible” – “just let me have the fun that I want.” Indeed.
You or Someone You Know is available now via 6131 Records.