downtalker is a Boston-based post-punk disco project rooted in recovery, chronicled by struggle, and nurtured by love. A result of 20 years of collaboration and friendship between Massachusetts natives Darin Thompson (lead vocals, synth, bass, guitar) and Justin Mantell (synth, guitar, bass, backing vocals), 2021 debut album Post Junkie Selfish Millennial Single Father Field Notes landed in Brooklyn Vegan’s Year in Review series. In September 2023, with an overall sound now augmented by Matt Freake (drums, percussion, backing vocals), downtalker released two kinetic new dance-minded singles – “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Watch Your Heart Break” – via the resurrected Iodine Recordings, with their debut show arriving a week later, opening for Fiddlehead’s highly-anticipated record release party at Royale. More new music is set to come, opening up the creative world of downtalker and the difficult, yet hopeful, stories of addiction and recovery contained within.
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Between technicolor synth and screeching guitar, downtalker paints a picture of trauma and addiction as if running through an anxious dream. The soon to release single, “All My Friends Are Dead”, is a new release from Boston-based band downtalker, following their LP released August of this year, Post Junkie Selfish Millennial Single Father Field Notes.
In the first and titular song off the single, “All My Friends Are Dead”, Darin Thompson barks out stories of childhood friends and visitation with his dad in a deep voice soaked in reverb. The quick strummed, funky guitar, and lazer beam synths juxtapose against the morbid lyrics. After the bridge, preceded by an emotional buildup with arpeggiated synth, all instruments cut out while Darin quickly whispers “All my friends are dead.” Quirky but honest and raw, “All My Friends” does a great job of sitting you with the feeling of drinking and dancing through a house fire.
Next up is “Watch Your Heart Break”, turning to a decidedly grittier sound, with those poppy hyper synths mostly 86ed, replaced by classic post-punk style phasers in the bridge. Keeping with the honest, almost stream of conscious lyrics, Darin espouses the beauty of love and self worth, with the warning “Just don’t fuck it up” following on repeat like an alarm. All of this crooned over overdriven guitar and rolling toms a la Viagra Boys.
A jumbled beautiful mess of funny, tragic, hopeful lyrics, backed up by dancing synths and chugging guitar, “All My Friends Are Dead” is a message to those in recovery, 10 years sober, or maybe even thinking about changing that other people have done it, and it’s not all D.A.R.E. commercial tragedy. In Darin’s words, “Music is part of my recovery and part of my healing now and I’m hoping that by being honest about my life, all my experiences will shine a light on this disease and also make others feel like they are not alone. We aren’t alone. We have each other. The song is called ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ but I’m hoping it will have the opposite effect and bring us together. Alone we can’t but together we can.”