Quiet Friend

NY-based band Quiet Friend is led by Nick Zanca, formerly Mister Lies & guitar-synthesist Steven Rogers. Their debut self-titled LP is out March 9, 2018 on Elestial Sound. The album was produced by Zanca and Alex Thompson between 2014 and 2017.

Wanting to approach Quiet Friend as an open-ended, ongoing collaboration, the three brought in about a dozen contributors. The plurality of voices involved, both literally and figuratively, is immediately present upon first listen, but rather than feeling scattershot, the songs are unified by the tension between heavily plastic, futuristic synth programming with acoustic arrangements that are vulnerable and knowingly imperfect. It’s a recognizable juxtaposition pulled from hi-fi 80’s influences like Prefab Sprout and The Blue Nile. Similarly, Quiet Friend is driven by an environmental specificity – a palpable shift between indoor and outdoor worlds, between intimacy and claustrophobia, and the ongoing balancing act between private and public selves.

Those shifts are evidenced not just in the attention to sonic space but through the lyrics. Thematically, Quiet Friend is full of songs about social anxiety, queer identity, and the fraught, often painful experience of seeking out intimacy in crowded cities. “Breathplay” is a window into fumbling, anonymous sex, with the chorus “Where has your body been?” acting as a mantric internal question to which one would presumably rather not know the answer. Still, there is optimism, and sometimes it prevails. “Name All The Animals,” though peppered with familiar references to the bleariness of dating in your 20s (“we drank all of the sake, we skipped out on the party, we are hungover in our hiding place”), is ultimately a pre-relationship love song, one which, for all its swooning string arrangements, embroidery-like microbeats and lush production, slowly reveals itself to be an appropriate vessel for such personal, physical lyrics. 

Elsewhere, the instrumental “Thorn From Paw” suggests the dry, unyielding patterns of Italian minimalism before slipping into an apocalyptic glitch-waltz that suddenly pulls the listener into an enormous sun-scraped space. It’s these deeply cinematic moments that allow Quiet Friend to transcend the sum of its parts, able to move nimbly between meticulously polished dance pop (“Breathplay”, “Playgrounds”) and murkier experimentation, often heavily inspired by private press new age (“Bath”, “Seance”). The rolling, syncopated bell-whirrs that make up the backbone of “Avalanche” are unmistakably in homage to the experimental pop geniuses of 80’s Japan, revisited in dazzling hi-fi and razor-sharp production. Still, despite this obsessive attention to detail, there’s a clear commitment to honesty, both in lyrical content and in texture. Quiet Friend is just as interested in specificity as in storytelling, and it makes for an intensely personal, almost invasive listening experience.”


IMAGES: To download, click above. Photo credit: Daniel Dorsa.



Elestial Sound