The Backseat Lovers released their sophomore album, “Waiting to Spill” on Oct. 28. The band released their first album, “When We Were Friends” in 2019 with massive success, and has since performed at NC State during Wolfstock in 2022. Their fan base has grown rapidly, and they went from playing small sets to performing with artists such as Jack White and The Killers in just a few years.
The band set the bar high with the quality of their freshman album, but “Waiting to Spill” fails to achieve this standard. Instead of continuing the love story of “When We Were Friends,” “Waiting to Spill” expresses the struggles of growing older. The album experimented with a lot of new elements for a band still so early in their career, and leans toward a folk rock sound over their previously favored indie rock style.
When first listening to the band’s freshman album, there are multiple tracks that strike the listener immediately upon hearing them between both lyrics and instrumentals. Each song was different and direct. It featured extremely niche but somehow relatable lyrics broken up by well-timed riffs, making songs about depressing situations still enjoyable to listen to. Fans who expected the same experience out of “Waiting to Spill” were likely disappointed.
“Waiting to Spill” requires multiple listens to make sense and differentiate between the songs, and each listen drags on due to the consistently slow pace of the entire album. The band embraced a more acoustic sound, utilizing the piano rather than the electric guitar fans thoroughly enjoyed in their previous music. The majority of the lyrics in the album are phenomenally written, but seem to drag on due to the pace of the whole album.
Slow paced ballads have their place, as the Backseat Lovers proved with “Dugout” and “Sinking Ship” on their last album, but a little variety in tempo throughout the album and even during individual tracks would have done the project well.
The lack of electric guitar is easily the most disappointing trait of the entire album. The long riffs are one of the most well-loved aspects of their previous music, but they only included a riff in one track, “Close Your Eyes,” and almost no electric guitar at all throughout the rest of the album. Josh Harmon and Jonas Swanson are both fantastic guitar players, and the band should have continued to prioritize utilizing their best talents.
“Waiting to Spill” included sound effects such as the sound of an airplane taking off in “Silhouette” and a car alarm in “Follow the Sound,” which was a new avenue for The Backseat Lovers. While the sounds of the band recording the album, such as finger squeaks and the band members talking, added a kind of rawness to the album, these other artificial sounds felt juvenile and out of place.
Regardless, there are still several enjoyable tracks on “Waiting to Spill,” the first of which being “Close Your Eyes.” The band released this track as a single on Sept. 16, correctly predicting it would be one of the more popular tracks from their album. This track is one of the few that feels correctly paced, and the guitar and bass are loud and prominent. The lyrics highlight the theme of the album, specifically reminiscing on moving away from one’s childhood home.
“And the dream is over/ Packed away/ My life moving slower/ Oh I’d hate to get any older,” Harmon sings.
“Words I Used” is beautifully written and shows a variety of sounds in a single track. The track begins soft-toned and slow, and has the classic escalation of many of the band’s songs. Instead of utilizing guitar to accomplish this, they do so with an upbeat piano interlude. The vocals begin quietly and lack depth, and are built along with the instrumentals to help develop the arc of the track. “Words I Used” is by far the best track on the album, reflecting a combination of their new acoustic instrumental with their classic pace and vocals.
Harmon finishes the track with a full vocal range, singing “I can’t lie when I sing.”
The Backseat Lovers write lyrics like a band that has been doing it for decades and are great musicians, but the music they wrote for this album didn’t play to their strengths. Hopefully, future albums will feature a faster pace and their classic instruments, but regardless, “Waiting to Spill” is still worth a listen.
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