Brooklyn band Good Looking Friends have released their second album ‘The Light of the Well’ via We’re Trying Records. Mixed by The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die’s Chris Teti, the album features the natural – and man-made – sounds of New York City including ambulance, klaxons and quiet conversations. Vocalist/guitarist Zachary Fisher says he wanted these in the recordings to ‘capture the music of the movement, the sounds of the city’.
The tender emo sensibilities and quiet-loud tones of ‘Bravery’ open the album as Zachary opens up his heart saying ‘I never asked to be lonely, I’m one of a kind’ and remarking on how ‘it’s another night locked out waiting for the sunshine’. This is followed by the Brendan Benson-style introduction of ‘Euphoria’, another one filled with sadness: ‘So much is wrong it won’t fit into a song. There’s nowhere I belong and I will blame you for it’. As the song builds up the tempo, there are crunching riffs and impassioned screams of the title. We heard elements of Into It. Over It. and The Hotelier in ‘Multiply’ – a song that blends twinkly and intricate guitar work with honest words: ‘I’m distracted, I’m annoying, I’m not feeling right’; ‘I don’t wonna be alone, I don’t wanna be without you’.
The DIY-style acoustic ditty of ‘Chased’ provides a 90-second interlude with dual vocals, deep breaths and laughter as Zachary tries to figure out how to deal with a painful situation: ‘I wanna ask how you’re doing but if I’m being honest I won’t be writing down any of the answers’. The 6-minute ‘Structure’ has Zachary reminiscing on a dream where his whole family died and talking about people who are ‘praying to God that the weekend will start’ before huge-sounding drums lead to an intense build up. Things are flipped with the Anamanaguchi-esque synths of ‘Lawman’ before ‘Survive’ takes the album back into more familiar territory – albeit with a burst of stirring strings.
Although written before lockdown, the opening line of ‘No Thanks’ will strike a chord with so many of you: ‘Stuck inside for too many days watching the valley snows’. It starts as a song about feeling cold and isolated but swiftly becomes a protest against landlords and the appalling ways they can treat some of their tenants: ‘This home is such a shithole’; ‘So human to fear you’. The band dip their toes into post-rock territory on the penultimate ‘Tanagra’, an anthem with a deliberately paced intro that features recordings of waves crashing against a pier bedding alongside gentle piano before the album wraps up with ‘Leonard’ – a poignant acoustic footnote that pays tribute to a friend with addiction issues who ends up in hospital while his wife serves time rotting in jail: ‘My habits are my habits’.
‘The Light of the Well’ is a candid, powerful and ultimately optimistic listen from your latest Good Looking Friends.