Album Review: Waiting to Spill by The Backseat Lovers

An excellent step forward for a local band that oftentimes feels a lot bigger than what many have been able to see at Velour.


By Mitchell Tousley

The Backseat Lovers are a well-known indie rock band that originated here in Utah, but have quickly won an international audience. The band found success with their catchy anthem “Kilby Girl,” a great song that highlights their approachable and refreshing take on indie rock.


Their newest album, Waiting to Spill, was released in the later part of 2022, and the band has been touring it extensively since then, including an upcoming slot at this year’s highly anticipated Kilby Block Party festival. 

Fans of the Backseat Lovers will find many familiar characteristics on this new album, as well as many new directions for the band. While their first album, When We Were Friends, planted itself firmly in the various stylings of garage-inspired indie rock, Waiting to Spill finds itself veering in more directions. This takes form mostly in less predictable song structures and a more colorful palette of instruments. This includes pianos, synths, strings, and mellotrons all accompanying guitars drenched in more reverb, rounder bass, and more distorted and compressed drums.


I find that this more diverse instrumentation accompanies lead singer Joshua Harmon’s The Bends era Thom Yorke-esque vocals far better than the more straightforward setup they used on the last record. The album is able to balance these sounds and use dynamics to let the restrained moments carry the weight of an emotional whisper and the louder moments explode with catharsis. This project strives to be more emotionally poignant and intimate than the last, and does so successfully with more moving and thoughtful lyrics. These new directions and experiments are a great step for the band, even if they don’t all hit with equal weight.


One of the best praises I can give this album is that its tracklist flows seamlessly. The momentum from track to track is very special, but the song “Snowbank Blues” consistently made me stop dead in my tracks. I feel like this song is the perfect synthesis of the new ideas on the album. Opening with acoustic guitar and bare vocals, a dancing synth-whistle moves around Harmon’s voice. The harmonic movement in the verse makes the changing chord progression in the chorus hit with greater weight and the interrupted crescendos make the song unpredictable and gives the bare ending, in which the synth whistle is replaced for a real whistle, feel like a successful conclusion to an unorthodox musical journey. The lyrics hit hard, featuring the relatable line “Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I’m smiling for myself.” The performances from each band member are moving and I look forward to hearing a rendition of this at Kilby Block Party to see how it is recreated live.


Overall, this is an excellent step forward for a local band that oftentimes feels a lot bigger than what many have been able to see at Velour. This project gives The Backseat Lovers and their fans a lot to be proud of and even more to look forward to in the band’s next release. I’d like to see the band continue to experiment in this direction, and see what other cool areas they find themselves in. 

Make sure to follow The Backseat Lovers on Instagram. You can listen to “Snowbank Blues” below!


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