Album of the Week: Friendship – Dreamin’

Last October I ordered LISA/LIZA’s ‘Momentary Glance’ on vinyl. An Orindal Records sampler CD felt like a bonus, when I found it at the bottom of the package. The only CD player I own is in my car – a red convertible smart car, I know. I still remember audibly saying, “What’s this?”, when the CD’s second track played as I drove through my hometown. A voice that existed somewhere between Interpol’s Paul Banks and Majical Cloud’s Devon Walsh emerged from my speakers along with a tugging guitar riff, a homespun pedal steel, and delicate drums. From the first verse, it felt like a song I’d known my entire life, that magical moment music sometimes brings, when all the stars align and each slight change, each new sound, leaves you breathless. Though not safe nor advisable, I reached for the CD cover mid-drive and read that the track was ‘Skip to the Good Part’ by some band called Friendship.

From there, I became obsessed with ‘Shock out of Season’, the band’s first full-length and the home to that song. A unique blend of Americana and Dan Wriggins’, Friendship’s lead singer, deft storytelling, embellished by whirring electronics. Two years on and we have their next full length, ‘Dreamin’, a record that’s more restrained instrumentally yet no less affecting. Any effects, any adornment, that could divert attention from the core of each song have been ditched. Though smaller in scale the songs are more affecting than ever; Wriggins’ incredible wordsmithery more prominent, the invention of Michael Cormier’s percussion clearer to the ear. 

Wriggins has an appreciation for the ‘little’ things in life. He understands that when we look back on our past exchanges, we often obsess on the minutiae- the tone of people’s voice, the small comment that planted a seed of doubt, a comment that initially seemed so unimportant yet months later you curse yourself for not spotting it. Like an esteemed novelist, he knows how to paint a scene. On ‘Dusky’, we find him on his porch with a friend, searching for words that might coax them into revealing what’s plaguing them. “Blessed is the front porch / and your six Pabst / your feet resting on the milk crate / something’s on your mind…I wanna hear your interpretation”. 

Most of Dreamin’ took shape while Wriggins and Cormier (drums) worked and lived as groundskeepers at a private estate in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. The gently pulsating ‘You Might Already Know’ recalls the bittersweet experience of receiving a message from a lover whilst you’re so far away from them. “You sent me a picture / you were looking alright / it’s hard to make up / the ocean at night”. In the chorus, Wriggins describes how his partner’s love managed to break down the barriers he’d enclosed himself in. “You found a portal to my door / And you walked right in / I didn’t think there was a door there / But apparently it was wide open”.

Cormier’s invention behind the kit on ‘Dreamin’ is applaudable. His first sketches and ideas for the record’s drums involved a lot more effects in Audible and that experimental spirit can be heard throughout. On ‘Low But On’ the drums sound elemental, like rain, gusty winds and lightning all at once, they sound as insistent as a woodpecker chipping away at bark on opener ‘I Don’t Have to Imagine Your Love’, while ‘Sure’ features what sounds like clapping castanets. 

‘Dreamin’ comprises so many stand-out moments that it’d be exhaustive to go through each one. It cements Friendship’s place as one of the underground alternative scene’s best bands. ‘Dreamin’ is a record that will never grow old. 

‘Dreamin’ is out now on Orindal Records

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