words by tom johnson
There’s a Twitter account I follow called Postcard From The Past which shares “fragments of life in real messages on postcards” via a single line of text taken from a note sent by someone, to someone, at some undetermined point in history. While it’s only ever one sentence, delivered without any chance of context, many of those shared still often manage to be both sweet and endearing, whether they’re funny throwaway comments (“You have to move so quickly in Paris” says one from earlier today) or an altogether more loaded comments: “The loneliness of being without you all makes it all hard to bear.”
In many ways The Glaciers’ new – and very wonderful – album, Quarry’s Light, feels like such an experiments. Only two of the twelve songs make it past the two-minute mark, and so what we’re delivered is a series of snapshots, little glimpses in to lives and characters and places that appear and then flutter away again, almost without context save for the occasional reference point that jumps out with added focus.
Created by Charlie Hoyt and Basia Kurlender, The Glaciers appeal lies in that definitive bedroom/DIY-pop sound, a light-filled space where delicate voices tumble in to the world with a mellifluous charm, wrapped up in a colourful but fragile instrumentals. Which is to say that the whole thing is wonderfully charming, even when dipping its toe in to the melancholy waters that are always close by.
The main focus of the songs is friendship and music, in fact the record could very well be a heartfelt ode to such things and how those two reference points snake their way through so much of the NYC crowd that The Quarries seemingly float alongside, through this thing called life. “friends in bands, with friends in bands, with friends who are also in other bands. when i’m alone it feels like everyone knows everyone,” they sing on closing track “Friends In Bands” while “Scully’s Den” is a poignant reflection on companionship: “Walking with Eric in the dreamlike light, past old churches, sidewalk cracks, grass growing through. I’m glad I’m friends with you.”
These little snippets of conversation and existence lend the record an almost overwhelmingly sense of sentimentality, and for all their fleeting focus, and that lack of context previously mentioned, “Quarrys Light” has a strange knack of still speaking directly to the listener, or this one at least. “Buying Groceries”, for example, lasts only for sixty-four seconds but it has a sense of solitude that allows the words to linger for days. “Buying groceries with a toothbrush in my pocket, listening to Free Cake,” it sings, referencing Katie Bennett’s wonderful musical project, before instantly sucker-punching the mood: “I wonder what I’m gonna make for lunch. Probably something you’d want, even though you’re not with me right now.”
It’s The Glaciers ability to sketch so much sentiment in to their little passages that makes this such an endearing listen, and this craft is perhaps best exemplified in penultimate track “Coney Island” which, like all of life’s most lasting moments, manages to live in the past, present, and future all at the same time, stirring something in the gut that you know won’t last but you’ll sure as hell live by it anyway while it does.
we used to joke about stepping out of your door and going to coney island
and one day you went
spilled your coffee and took the Q
i’m sorry you were so upset
but i’m glad you made it to coney island
brighton beach boardwalk
sheepshead bay seas
how about you and me?
we can go to the amusement park
bike on the concrete
shoot tiny basketballs
live by the sea?