Bestfriend's Tenderness Transcends Bedroom Pop on 'Places I've Lived'
Published Sep 30, 2021Bestfriend is whoever you need them to be.
Holding up a mirror to the millennial psyche, the bicoastal duo consists of Stacy Kim and Kaelan Geoffrey — the former based in Vancouver and the latter Toronto. Their remote collaboration wields tender transmissions with ambition to transcend far beyond their respective bedrooms. On debut EP Places I've Lived, they introduce themselves as your soft-spoken confidants, waxing nostalgic while scouring camera roll memories for a soft place to land amid the cracks in the pavement.
Geoffrey immediately establishes his promise as a producer on opening track "You Want Everyone to Love You," a dense, pulsing soundscape that finds you speeding through a tunnel in the dead of night in a coming-of-age film. Ironically, Kim wryly accepts that making it to the moon is futile thereafter on "Does It Matter?," capturing the day-to-day sense of impending doom while riding the escapist fantasy of a chance encounter on public transit.
She breaks through on the static-led "Hannah in the City" with her most assured vocal performance, ascending alongside its soaring chorus. "Last Bus in the A.M." finds referential guideposts in LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" while taking partying cues from Lorde in hollow ribs and shimmering synths panning from side to side: "It keeps coming and coming in waves," Kim nearly whispers; in one ear, out the other.
Meanwhile, "For Grace, After a Party" — titled after the Frank O'Hara poem — is a lush, romantic moment complete with voicemail narration and the duo's cooing harmonies. If forced to choose between driving synth-pop jaunts and lumbering, dreamy ballads, Kim and Geoffrey comfortably sit on the fence.
Every song in the collection is a eulogy to something or someone from the past; places you've lived and people you've been. Bestfriend's reflexive intimacy is the kind that finds comfort in tweeting one's innermost thoughts; it often feels like listening to another kid profess their secrets through a cup on a string, as if you've known each other for years.
With foresight, the duo sees precious moments with loved ones through nostalgia's potent lens before they've even passed by. As retrospect would have it, Places I've Lived has softened edges — even when off-kilter tempo wobbles seem counterintuitive to where you think melodies are going, they come across as winking sleights of hand, working to throw the listener off the way time's passage can lead to unexpected shifts in perception.
The only track on the EP grounded in any semblance of the present tense is "Good to See You," which asks to hold your hand in the meantime. Featuring gang vocals contributed by dozens of Geoffrey and Kim's friends, it's likewise not much of a stretch to imagine a crowd singing this chorus back to them despite the fact that Bestfriend has yet to make their live debut.
With the release of sister EP Places I've Left on the horizon, the nostalgia for an artistic beginning teeming with potential is probably being cued up as we speak. places i've left feels like it could be on the cusp of something remarkable — but for now, Kim and Geoffrey are just wondering what songs you'll listen to tonight as you walk home past the streetlights. (Independent)