fanclubwallet's Specifics Are Personal but the Vibes Are Relatable on 'Hurt Is Boring' EP

fanclubwallet's Specifics Are Personal but the Vibes Are Relatable on 'Hurt Is Boring' EP
Written during and about the pandemic (with the added stress of a 10-month recovery from an unrelated health flare-up), fanclubwallet's debut EP, Hurt Is Boring, is a testament to the creative benefits of enforced solitude. Ottawa-based musician Hannah Judge's five-track release is a deeply-felt — but not necessarily depressing — slice of bedroom indie-pop dealing with experiences many of us are likely familiar with these days, including isolation, boredom and the rehashing of minor events that take on looming proportions in our memories. The specifics may be personal, but the vibes are relatable. Produced by grade-school friend Michael Watson and recorded with guitars and lo-fi synths kicking around the house, Hurt Is Boring is a friendly and unpretentious mix of indie folk and pop sensibilities.

There's something distinctly punk about the imagery of this scruffy, worn-out wallet (the project is named after a vintage Dennis the Menace piece that once belonged to her dad), and while certain aspects of Hurt Is Boring definitely reflect a folk-punk aesthetic (basic guitar chords, raw lyrical honesty, gang vocals at one point), there's also a lot of delicate synth work going on that broadens the album's palette nicely, setting it apart from the standard open-hearted strum-fests of so much acoustic punk. The swirling lead that swims out of the darkness to match Judge's vocal phrasing on the title track is especially striking, an unexpected burst of warm, Casio-toned colour that offsets the heavy sentiment of the song. 

It's a contrast that seeps into a lot of the album — even the ominously titled "Car Crash in G Major" features a downright bouncy synth line that accompanies lyrics about fiery wreckage. It's all held together by Judge's easygoing charm however ("C'mon Be Cool," a disarming ode to polite non-engagement is another highlight), drawing you into the homey, living room vibes of the album with ease. Things open up after the swift, economical punch of these two singles with "Flew Away," a more exploratory track that's ultimately the most rewarding on the album, its delayed focal point tying everything together with a dreamy piano-assisted outro.

Judge keeps things tight overall, with a distinct lack of filler. By the time the title track closes the album, with its clear-eyed rejection of the banality of painlessness in favour of the complexity of real life, you'll find yourself comforted by the knowledge that we'll hopefully all be living at least freer lives by the time fanclubwallet's next effort hits. (AWAL)