words by sammy maine
There’s a persistent nostalgia that runs throughout Friendship’s ‘Shock out of Season’. A quiet reckoning that urges us to evaluate a series of reflective morsels from the interactions that meant the most to us. The moments that you let slide despite what your instincts told you; the memories that overcrowd all other thoughts.
Friendship are a Philadelphia-based group currently comprised of Dan Wriggins, Peter Gill, Mike Cormier, Evangeline Krajewski, and Jon Samuels. ‘Shock out of Season’ marks their first full-length for Orindal Records – (Julie Byrne, Hello Shark) – after a series of quiet releases, including this year’s crushingly beautiful mini album ‘F/V Hope’.
‘Shock out of Season’ is introduced by the striking, repentant imagery of “If You See My Beloved”. It references Auguste Rodin, a forerunner in modern sculpture and an artist who often focused on the messy, realistic aspects of the human body. He honoured the individualism of each creation, producing distinctive characteristics or physicality that most of his early critics found too genuine or too authentic for their decoratively-obscured vision.
And while Wriggins doesn’t associate himself with the sculptor – rather, it’s his character’s partner that finds the connection – it’s a reference that encapsulates the power and complexity of the human existence and the experiences within it. Wriggins is a lyricist that boldly celebrates the tangled disorder of our interactions and the consequences that mould the psychology of our everyday outlook. He finds reflections of his characters in others and shifts them into focus, urging us to look at ourselves, which often marks an overwhelming listen. It’s uncomfortably close to home but that’s what makes it so magical.
Communication, or rather, miscommunication, is perhaps the album’s most significant takeaway. “I called but you couldn’t hear me, you were getting on the train,” Wiggins says on “Sure, But”; “What holds you up, what makes you scared?” he asks on “Skip To The Good Part”, “something like “I need your love like I need air” What was that? Sometimes you mumble.” It’s an agonising narrative that makes you want to reach into your headphones and push these people together, to make their ending a more beautiful one than you could ever construct for yourself. You want them to do better.
And that’s the point of ‘Shock out of Season’. It crafts a desolate realism that ruminates, a shadow we can never shake, a flicker that fades with each day. But there’s also a hopefulness to Friendship’s performance that finds beauty in the crevices we try to hide. This surprising, subtle optimism is most evident on the intricately arranged “Workhorse”. Arriving half-way through the LP, it offers a breath, a moment to ameliorate on the present rather than to lose ourselves to the past. Sonically, there’s more of a surge than it’s predecessors, as slide guitar breaks the filter of our introspection and large, boasting percussion encourages a promising, more confident characteristic. “Sign me up to fly, I want to take that ride, on the official airline of the magic kingdom,” Wiggins delivers with a notable resonance, despite the connotations of his declaration.
It’s difficult not to feel the weight of Friendship’s courage. It’s easy to forget these stories are not our own. But through Wiggins’ cinematic symbolism and the sparse yet significant instrumentation, Friendship allow these stories to become bigger than themselves. It’s an album that serves as a vehicle into something beyond our own actuality by immersing us in a simple truthfulness. It harnesses the power of those small, tiny acts that can make all the difference.
Afterall, what is life for?
‘Shock out of Season’ is out now via Orindal Records
Order it here