I’m not sure what drove me to the Beach Slang show, a band I’ve been perpetually tracking back and forth between love and ambivalence. Perhaps it was Worriers, a band whose own new record deserves much praise. Or perhaps it was the chance to spend an evening in Seattle, in search of a new experience. I found one in Lithuania’s incredible set that night, and subsequently in their debut album, Hardcore Friends. Before I really dig into this great new record, I want to take a second to talk about Lithuania’s live show. The band doesn’t have a fantastic live presence, but there’s an urgency in their sound that takes center stage during their live performances. During their performance of their standout track, “I Wanna Drink Poison,” chills ran down my spine, and tears welled in my eyes.
Holy shit. That’s never happened to me at a show before.
If Lithuania can better capture their live sound on their recordings (which may be one of the only drawbacks of Hardcore Friends), they’re poised to become an incredible force. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with Hardcore Friends. The album is fantastic. On first listen, I heard what sounded like a pop-punk band in the vein of Joyce Manor, and some of their more developed songs even evoked Cloud Nothings. The two vocalists bring completely different sounds to their respective songs. Songs on which Eric Slick (also a member of Dr. Dog, Hop Along) lends his vocals tend to have a more straightforward sound, while the songs which feature Dom Angelella inhabit a more vast, sometimes experimental space.
The band easily breezes past the pitfalls that trap their contemporaries. Every pop-punk band includes a now-cliched acoustic song on their album, generally tacked on at the end. On “Coronation Day,” however, Lithuania move the goalposts in a way few will ever be able to meet, much less surpass. More and more elements find their way into the soundscape of the song, transcending that pop-punk cliche and creating something that would feel at home on some kind of grandiose indie record.
Some of the other standout tracks on the record include “2009,” “Hardcore Friends,” and “Clumsy and Forgotten.” This band makes listening to punk music fun and interesting again, in a scene filled with stale carbon copies of white men angry at some vague unknown force. My only criticism is for the fact that there is more life in their live show, but this is only a complaint borne of comparison. This band rocks.