An Impeccably Produced Exhibit in The Art of Building Tension & Release
In late 2022, everyone’s favorite Utah-based Indie rock band The Backseat Lovers continued riding the highs of their past couple years of consistent growth into the mainstream by releasing their second full length album, Waiting to Spill.
The follow-up to the breakout debut When We Were Friends from 2019 features elements of the defining sound of the band, but mixes in a more maturing blend of additional influences from rhythm and blues, folk, and new wave along with high quality production and mixing.
It all comes together to make a 10-song album filled with great songs. No filler, not repetitive or indulgent. It will be a celebration for fans of the band to listen to such a follow-up to their hit debut.
#1 – Silhouette
Well, right off the bat, this song goes hard. Not entirely what you’d expect from the sound of The Backseat Lovers if using their prior discography as an indication. It’s a firm 6 minutes, filled with long instrumental breaks, strange sound mixes, and muddled singing. Almost experimental sounding if you place it next to the tight, pop-inspired songs from When We Were Friends. The build of tension, however, is excellent, leading into the rest of the album’s mix of a newer, heavier sound, and the idiosyncratic sound of the band we’ve come to know.
#2 – Close Your Eyes
The first track leads into “Close Your Eyes” another extended song at over 5 minutes in length, this follows a more typically songwriting structure, but stretched out. The approach of this spacing, tempo changes, and layering of instruments and vocals once again builds an incredible amount of tension. If you recall the best of The Backseat Lovers discography thus far, this is certainly a theme. As songwriters the band knows how to build tension through a song and finish with a flourish. Perhaps a little more of a raw sound comes off on this album. Though exquisitely mixed, there’s more layers of sound, harsher guitar tones. Very well constructed track coming off the first song on the album.
#3 – Morning in the Aves
Now we move into a song with an acoustic finger-picking, longing vocals, and a more subdued tone. The third track brings in the more folksy elements of The Backseat Lovers sound. Group backing vocals, a recurrent rhythm section punctuated by some twinkling electric guitar arpeggios. A slightly tighter song, this track also helps move the album along.
#4 – Growing/Dying
This song was released as a single prior to the album dropping last Fall. A good choice as it does a good job of demonstrating some of the differing aspects of sound to this album. Again, a song filled with heavier guitar tones, a plodding but deliberate rhythm section, and a combination of tight pop song construction and enough room for the song to breathe and build toward a more manic bridge. This song stands out.
#5 – Words I Used
Oh, ok. Piano comes out of nowhere for what feels like a melodramatic ballad once we get to track 5. Another longer song, it becomes apparent the band put together 10 songs of good quality and length to create a fully realized album, no filler necessary.
Oh wait, no there’s a string section. Maybe? Or was that just a guitar that sounded like a string section.
Ok, now it’s just a Beatles song all of a sudden. Lot going on with this one, but it’s really a very nice song.
#6 – Snowbank Blues
This is the most folk-sounding song on the album. Johnny Cash-style-bass line, constantly strumming guitar, and once again the guttural singing of Joshua Harmon.
#7 – Follow The Sound
We get more of that piano sound on this song and honestly I can dig it. I can’t exactly place the band that this song reminds me a lot of. Kind of some rhythm and blues vibes going on here. Once again, a little different sound from the band based on their historical discography, but this song really stands out as a winner on the album.
#8 – Slowing Down
Another song released as a single prior to the album release. Eventually you just run out of ways to describe the way a band like The Backseat Lovers writes music. It’s a consistent formula for song-building, but the exact structure will vary, the length will vary, the lengths of instrumental breaks differ, instrumentation is different, and what is emphasized in the mix is different, but although this creates songs that have their own identifiable sound, the resulting feeling is the same. Building of tension and then a release, that develops an album filled with songs that have some variety and don’t feel all one note, but can cohesively express an idea and feeling.
In particular with this track, the instrumental bridge prior to the final minute highlights this game of tension building and release perfectly.
#9 – Know Your Name
This may be the most under-the-radar song on the album. If there’s any critique on the track-ordering of the album, it may be to move this song a little earlier. “Slowing Down” just does an excellent job of punctuating this album.
#10 – Viciously Lonely
This song has a nice mellow groove from the piano and guitar. Almost something that like peak James Taylor maybe would have written. A nice way to put a topper on the album.