By Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor
Everything about Quiet Life seems to fit their name, from the notably un-dramatic photos on their website to the simple album art of their newest album, “FOGGY.” One might presume that this Americana five-piece would be the sort of quiet music played to fill a silent room or pass a slow afternoon, but “FOGGY” is no such background sound.
Right from the first track, “Live Wire,” things feel ready to grow, like the crouching figure dressed as a mushroom on the album’s cover feels ready to stretch its legs and stand. Echoing lo-fi vocals croon over the a discordant, antiquated-sounding piano, not unlike something one might hear in a ballroom located somewhere where country music is the prevailing pick for radio stations and mud is a fact of life. The band isn’t country, though, despite the brassy accompaniments and the occasional banjo. More likely to be heard are the shredding guitar solos (“Lost In The Light gives a real ripper, as does “September Rose”) and vocal lines that speak unmistakably of the blues.
Track by track, the album does what music does best: each song is a story in four minutes (or thereabouts), both personal enough to lend authenticity to the piece, but ambiguous enough to let the listener fill in their own blanks and create a connection to the music unlike any other. Gentle grooves, helped along by bass lines that fill in the spaces between the guitar and vocals to keep things from getting too empty, keep the album moving forward with the gait of someone who’s in no particular hurry.
Almost without realizing it, the album captures the full attention of the listener. By the time the title track “Foggy” rolls around, head-bobbing is impossible to prevent, and the carefully crafted dueling lines of bass and guitar hearken back to dance halls and forward to walks through meadows and along rocky beaches that the listener hasn’t taken yet, but just might, once the album ends. The patience and natural peace of Rhode Island summers, the setting where the album was written, are exuded in every verse.
The album reaches a peak at “Leavin’ On My Own,” where the synth has been fully integrated and the vocals hit their clearest. It almost comes as a surprise, because the track before, “Waiting on the G Train,” fades so superbly into “Leavin’,” but even though the chorus has almost exactly the same melody, it’s undeniably its own piece. Banjos dance in the bridge, and the bass gets the plucked, slappy feeling of a classic standup in an old-style band. From there, things wind down, until “Time Until” kisses the listener goodbye with the sensation of a cup of tea and sunshine. The optimism of the blues (it’s bad now, but we know it’ll keep getting better) feels like a parting kiss on the cheek, and one is left with the impression that they’ve just made a new best friend in the way that only the warmest hospitality can do.
Quiet Life will be released on April 8, 2016. Quiet Life will be performing on April 6 in Brooklyn at Rough Trade with the Wild Reeds.