Published Mar 03, 2020It's the end of the world as we know it, and Lauren Denitzio doesn't know what to feel. The singer-songwriter's punk band Worriers makes another stride, while Denitzio continues to sort out the way things are and what comes next.
The group's third album, You or Someone You Know, is immediately a cut above 2017's Survival Pop, as "End of the World" sets the stage with skyscraping synth and punchy power chords before Denitzio poses the first of many difficult questions: "Should we multiply? / 2050 isn't getting any further away / I found a nice house in the bay / We can go there but there's fire and earthquakes."
It turns out that Worriers are fittingly named.
Similar to Latterman's No Matter Where We Go..!, the Wonder Years' The Greatest Generation and, most recently, Spanish Love Songs' Brave Faces Everyone, this album derives much of its appeal from viewing societal unease through a highly personal lens. "Fingers crossed that they vote you a person," Denitzio sings in one of the album's most cutting lines. Their queer-identifying perspective offers visibility and relatability that can be hard to find, but you'd be a fool to think their point of view makes the songs any less relatable to a general audience.
You or Someone You Know is a record about breaking up, about moving to a new home, about being comfortable in one's own skin, and about fearing for the future. And yes, it's also about questioning hierarchical structures of society — such as hetero-normativity and its imprint on the cultural institution of marriage — and about tackling the practical and ethical challenges of living in this generation and planning for the ones to come. There's much to worry about.
With a sound that'll be pleasingly familiar to fans of Against Me! and RVIVR, Worriers maintain a commitment to letting the core of a song be the focus. Many of these are big, punchy rock tunes, but their simplicity always funnels one's attention toward the words and melodies. "PWR CPLE" and "Big Feelings" are textbook Ramones-esque catchy pop punk songs about navigating a failing relationship and the inside of one's own psyche. "Just let me have the fun that I want," Denitzio sings in "Chicago Style Pizza Is Terrible," a low-key tune that gives particular priority to songwriting and harmony. "Terrible Boyfriend" is a pensive, Juno-esque ballad about incompatibility in a relationship dynamic: "If we're being honest I was not cut out to take out," they sing. "Now a lighter left hand ain't so bad, 'cause I make a terrible boyfriend."
At a time when it seems like most bands of this kind are working overtime to make a defining statement — the next pop punk masterpiece to unite the youth — Worriers are refreshingly content to write good, honest, infectious songs and let that be enough. Denitzio doesn't belt out these songs, but the effect is there. It's rock with heart, albeit not one that's entirely full. That's okay, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous.
Still, these songs, in the hands of John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Hop Along, Alvvays) have shown flashes of Worriers' capability to make something truly big. You or Someone You Know is a tight, well-written record of relatable, hook-driven punk lite. It indicates that Worriers are capable of more than they've delivered in the past, and that they're capable of delivering even more in the future. They have the gasoline and the matches, and need only to light a flame and let their music explode, with all its honesty and emotion. (6131)