The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – ‘Ways of Hearing’ album review

Brilliantly named, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick are a six-, sometimes seven-, piece from Philadelphia who play off each other – both vocally and musically – to create goosebump-inducing soundscapes full of raw power and emotion. Following the popularity of cassette and digital sales, their debut album ‘Ways of Hearing’ has now been pressed on to vinyl by Count Your Lucky Stars Records.

Opening with the Death Cab meets TWIABP sound of ‘An Olive Coat’, the album starts with slow-burning yet twinkling guitar-led restraint – which is soon joined by subtle strings and floating vocals musing on being ‘almost halfway home’. This is swiftly followed by ‘We Love You So Much’, another song coaed in strings and advice that rolls off the tongue with tenderness as the band ask the subject if they left the door unlocked and windows closed. ‘Jars Filled with Rain’ is altogether shorters and sweeter, sounding like the kind of excellent alt-folk you’d expect from the Keeled Scales record label, before it finishes in a swirling crescendo of post rock nose, while ‘The Best of All Possible Worlds’ features an eye-opening line about mortality – one of the record’s key themes: ‘I didn’t even know your name when I heard that you had died’.

‘The Car Stands On My Arm’ has observations about the weather and questions about martyrdom before ‘Winston’s Theme’ offers a cute glockenspiel-led interlude. ‘God’s Country’ has elements of Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)’s heartfelt honesty as The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick talk about losing people and dual vocals declare how we’re ‘wasting time again’ over hypnotic hooks. ‘Joseph Stalin’ again focuses on grief but this time the words about a plane crash are delivered against a sparse, acoustic-led backdrop: ‘I’m staring at a picture and rowing in a lake. 1984 never seemed so far away but I’ll never get to ask you and you’ll never get to answer. Maybe you’ll get to talk to me when we’re both dead forever’.

‘Closer’ is another more internalised piece full of self-advice – ‘Read a book and have a smoke and live forever’ – while the closing quirky pop sound of ‘Everyone Around Us’ provides an account of how hard certain things can be with its tale of death, pills and perhaps misplaced hope: ‘You know you look so done, it’s obvious to everyone’.

With ‘Ways Of Hearing’, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick have come up with a winner.

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