The debut album from California’s Work Friend finds a way to create something uplifting out of its sombre lyrical themes
louching is the result of a journey which started with lead singer Spencer Hannemann’s aborted solo album. Having gained drummer Alex Teubert and producer/bandmate Jon O’Brien, Hannemann formed The Hicks Canyon Band and released the album River Deep. A further new arrival, this time Brandon Osorio on guitar, and an overhaul of style and influence meant that another new start was needed and Work Friend were born.
The resulting album, produced, mixed and engineered by the band themselves, is a rocking shoulder shaker concealing a melancholic underbelly. This template is established from the very start on Any Good. It is a failed relationship song, the realisation that being comfortable isn’t reason enough to stay, but it is also somebody laughing at themselves against a backdrop of uplifting guitars and dancefloor drumbeats.
This formula is successfully repeated throughout Slouching. Vegas takes us on a march round Sin City complete with “dead-eyed made-up faces, young and graceless” being bought drinks by bankers who have escaped their families for the night. Two Ways is a gloriously upbeat number with swaggering guitars. But the album is no one-trick pony, Hideous Weight and Vultures are more sombre affairs, reminiscent of Micah P Hinson, that let Hannemann’s sandpaper croak stand alone.
Slouching is the sound of a band that won’t let their frontman sink under the weight of his own cynicism. Their sunshine rock is the arm over the shoulder that Hannemann needs and it makes for an album which is equal measures soul and spirit.
Verdict: A rocking journey through Spencer Hannemann’s melancholy