Owned since: 2015
Genre: Heavy country folk played by screamo legends
Where I bought it: A friend thinning down his collection
Label/pressing: Lovitt Records/Adagio830
While I write this, we’re still in the middle of the lockdown here. We stockpile a lot of these, but coming to the end of it reminds me of one of the last nights I was doing really something before we went into this. Normally, me and some other people I know from way back meet up for a weekend every 1-2 years where we just go sit in a cabin somewhere in the Belgian woods and drink a lot. It’s in part in memory of friends who passed away, but also just a way to keep in touch because, well, everyone grew up and besides a select few none of them really slum around squats/backpacking through Europe a lot anymore. Like, I knew these people mostly when they were 16-17 year old little punky assholes just like me and now 10-12 years later it seems like a lifetime ago. Mostly these nights start/end/keep on going with campfires and acoustic guitars which run through an endless array of folk and punk classics as long as we can shout along in the night. It’s a very end-30s thing to do and we’re already doing this bullshit around our mid- and end-20s.
Pygmy Lush was a lot like that. Formed from the long gone ashes of legendary screamo band Pg.99, their brand of folky depressed warmth recalls having drinking nights with friends, picking up guitars and sometimes, well, having a good cry. It’s a bit of a thing for punk artists to have folk projects later on but Pygmy Lush differs quite a bit from it all. Always a full band lineup, their sound recalls the more quiet Carrissa’s Weird moments, the first Band of Horses record or more recently a less cutesy Whitney. There is a real feeling of dread but also hope spilling out of this record, I mean the title gives it away pretty much: old friends.
Because boy, this album while I love it is the most mid-30s ex-extreme music guys mellowing out and fully going into folk music. The ‘amps for christ‘ way I call it when, when power-violence legends Man is the Bastard called it quits the first time Henry Barnes started his solo project which, while released on classic hardcore label Vermiform, was far removed from a lot of its output. Quiet folk played on a bunch of oddball, mostly self-built instruments, offset by its lo-fi production and endless mellow noise interludes.
Old Friends is a lot like that. It’s very much music made by a bunch of guys escaping their legendary teens/early 20s and finding joy in playing music again. It all is so extremely mellow and nice it’s hard to imagine their biggest claims to fame is making a sonic terror. It also is a record that honestly is pretty hard to write about. It’s that kind of country-folk music that you hear a lot on metal labels; slightly sluggish, full production and a lot of dual vocals. What makes this one shines is really the great songs on here, even at the end of it’s 45 minute running time it kind of all mushes together. Honestly, this is one of those records I mostly play one side of the time off. Perfectly for 20 minutes of mopey sadness, because after that you need for sure something more uplifting to not fall asleep.
But hey, music to fall asleep to is also needed and I can think of a lot worse records then Old Friends to have playing then. The 5 minute long I’ll Wait With You which slowly ramps up it’s slowcore chugging riff is absolutely wonderful and leads to one of the few moments where the album picks up some bite. Absolute highlight of this is, of course, the ending track Pals which is a 7 minute slow build song that heavily goes into shoegaze stereotypes. While the B-side overall is a bit more upbeat, Pals is really where the band shines.
Honestly, it’s not far off from a song the War of Drugs would put on a record a couple years later except I like it a lot. It has the same slight end 90’s indie rock sound and slowly grows to a hard hitting near post-rock ending. a lot of terms being thrown around but it’s legit great.
Old Friend is a great record that is also a tad boring. Mostly by design it seems, because most of these band based folk-ish records with an indie rock twist are. Anyway, it’s on Spotify and Bandcamp(12 dollars for the vinyl), give it a whirl if you like all the names I dropped above. I’m off to sit outside, see the sun set while I sadly drink an IPA and think about the wilderness.
Slooty Lush: Very sleepy and sad, but not bad. Soft and folksy enough that yeah I can totally see them pivoting off their holy terror youth into this, because the stereotype is so true.