Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
Record label: Team Love Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
New Jersey band Quarterbacks write songs entirely about girls and play a catchy brand of twee punk. Their self-titled debut album poses a question: How many songs can you write about the same subject without it getting stale?The answer, in fact, is 19. In just under 25 minutes, Quarterbacks sounds like an exploration of form and structure, as the band offer subtle variations on a theme, using similar songwriting ingredients throughout.
Upstate New York trio Quarterbacks breathe punk energy into singer/songwriter/guitarist Dean Engle's short, lovestruck songs, their self-titled debut spilling out all sorts of sweet, romance-obsessed feelings on 19 songs that rush by in a staggeringly quick 22-minute running time. Even with all the album's punk trappings -- sloppy, loud guitar chords, breakneck tempos, songs peeling off in a matter of seconds -- what really resonates is the softness of Engle's pure-hearted, sometimes charmingly naive songs. On "Last Boy," Engle sings to his crush, idealistically throwing off each of their romantic pasts over a burning backdrop equal parts Minutemen and early R.E.M.
Round up a room of every adolescent archetype you can think of, and ask yourself which one is the “punk.” If you’re like most people, you’d aim for the easy target – the loud guy sporting an Elmers-fed mohawk and studded denim vest, who probably had his first beer at the age of 12 at his older brother’s house party and flips the bird more than unnecessarily often. However, I get the feeling that the members of Quarterbacks would see things differently. They’d likely point you to the scrawny, shy, awkward kid sitting alone in the corner that you probably didn’t even notice – the kind of kid you’ve heard say maybe three words ever and secretly writes poems and pines for mohawk guy’s girlfriend.
Quarterbacks are pretty easy to pin down within 30 seconds of their debut album: rough-strummed electric guitar chords, nonchalant tenor vocals, and thundering, barely-controlled drumming—all played as fast as possible. Quarterbacks consists of 19 tracks, none of which surpasses the two-minute mark (and many are under a minute). There's barely a bridge to be found, let alone a repeated chorus.
There are 19 songs on Quarterbacks’ proper debut and every single one of them is about a girl. More broadly, they’re about "girls"—specific ones that occupy young Dean Engle’s thoughts, couch and bedroom, but they're also present as a theoretical construct in his daydreams. "Knicks" and "Sportscenter"? They’re kinda about girls. "The Dogs" is 28 seconds long, Engle’s recollection of a guy with two puppies on his lap driving off a back road.
If memoirs covered every painstaking facet of someone’s life, there would be chapters upon chapters about wasting away, watching TV, and thinking about former lovers. It’s not just that life can be boring, but that those not-so-interesting moments feel much more epic and important in the moment. Twee punk outfit Quarterbacks shed light on these seemingly mundane elements of existence with their self-titled debut.