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Album Review: When We Were Friends by The Backseat Lovers

This is a sharp-witted collection of brilliantly candid lyricism built on equally clever indie rock.

By Jordan Ottesen

The Backseat Lovers have seemingly emerged out of nowhere, winning Velour’s 2018 Summer Battle of the Bands and gaining well over half a million streams on Spotify alone in just the last year. Their latest album When We Were Friends is a sharp-witted collection of brilliantly candid lyricism built on equally clever indie rock. Beneath the electric guitars and indie kid facade is a group of romantics that sing with a surprising level of emotional depth, tackling subjects like genuine heartache and searching for direction in a world that can tend to push young musicians around.

Opening track “Watch Your Mouth,” for example, works through the frustrations that can come from a relationship with someone that has a tendency to be fake or emotional unstable. The song itself is crafted with a very loose structure by opening with one melody, flowing into many others, and ending on a completely new riff altogether – further echoing the instability referred to in the tune. All of this is composed in a dynamic blend of instrumental and vocal precision, making The Backseat Lovers a thoroughly enjoyable and arguably lighthearted listening experience despite some of the heavier undertones in the lyrics.

The Backseat Lovers

Vocally, the album is stylistically reminiscent of bands like The Kooks and Miniature Tigers, particularly when considering the timbre of lead vocalist Josh Harmon. Seriously, go listen to “She Moves In Her Own Way” by The Kooks, remove the London accent, then queue up “Davy Crochet” by The Backseat Lovers. Although the similarities are exceedingly striking, Josh still maintains a unique vocal style that’s solely his. His tone is earnest, matching the clean composition of the instrumentation behind it all. He’ll make you feel like you’re already good friends, despite never having met. Pay attention to the lyrics as well; they might surprise you. Notice the subtle reference to what comes from “plastic cups” in the song “Pool House” as it mentions “your lunch is on its way back up but you’re still in the pool.”What?! Love it.

“Davy Crochet” stands out as a strong catchy tune that deserves more attention. With lyrics like “I’ll teach you how to laugh if you can teach me crochet” and “why go to class if you’re already late?” it’s a song that finds the simple joys in a relationship – even if that relationship is a dwindling one.

When We Were Friends is a great example of how deep thinking and intentional songwriting don’t need to be absent in a bedroom indie rock album. Often bands in a similar genre struggle with dynamics, yet The Backseat Lovers revel in it. The relatable lyricism laced throughout the record instantly establishes a connection with the listener. This all comes together to make an album that will please fellow indie lovers and casual listeners alike.

Be sure to follow The Backseat Lovers on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify, and check out “Davy Crochet” from When We Were Friends (recorded at Pale Horse Sound by engineer Greg downs) right here:

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