Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Listen: Friend Roulette - "Strange Girl"

With the release of their Grow Younger EP last year, Brooklyn experimental chamber pop outfit Friend Roulette essentially caught up with themselves. Filled with songs even older than those of their debut self-titled EP as well as ones they've been playing since before their debut full length I'm Sorry You Hit Your Head, Friend Roulette no longer have that daunting chasm of unreleased tracks. Or so I thought.

With Friend Roulette gearing up to release their anticipated sophomore record, they're bringing another older track out to trot in "Strange Girl".  And yet, there's no doubt Friend Roulette have trussed it up a bit in what is rapidly becoming their trademark fashion. After a tone-setting instrumental intro, Julia Tepper's vocals are given full freedom to soar in the mid-tempo jam but there's plenty of room for the rest of the band to do their thing; swelling up during the choruses but always clearing up for Tepper's narrative verses. One of the most interesting things about Friend Roulette is not only how they warp typical songwriting conventions but also the interplay between the band's six members. There's melodies and countermelodies and harmonies all happening concurrently and one particular awesome musical moment in "Strange Girl" occurs  when a sort of hand-off between Tepper's vocals and John Stanesco' EWI before there's a call and response between Tepper and the rest of band at the song's climax. It's a track with a subtler touch as the track focuses rightfully on its narrative - dark and mysterious and just as inventive if not a bit more forthcoming with its plot elements than the standard Friend Roulette track. With two EPs, a full length and one of the way, Friend Roulette are settling in a sort of groove - their sound uniquely their own but not afraid to fuss around with their own songwriting structure.

Friend Roulette is one of those rare bands that don't have to try to be interesting; they just are. "Strange Girl" is a testament to that - recalling the nonsensical quirk of "Kitty Song", "Just Woke Up", and "Sailing Song" but with the cohesive storytelling of "I Guess" or the winsome "Or, Berlin" for a sort of happy medium.

Friend Roulette's sophomore record I See You. Your Eyes Are Red will be out later this year but you can listen to first single "Strange Girl" now:

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