- Lake Waves, Tricky Friends
I love the origin story of Burlington's Lake Waves. Like many bands in the area, the group's members met on the University of Vermont campus. The quartet of Amaal Abdelrahman, Elise Albertini, Allie Krasner and Max Mashrick came together at the Living/Learning Center, which has a more residential vibe than some of UVM's more traditional dormitories. In shared suites, students cluster with others who have similar interests and study in the same programs.
Mashrick explained by email that they each would perform individually at "under-the-radar" open mics hosted by art-themed "houses" in L/L. (I love the thought of students viewing their dorms as homes in which they create cultural space for artsy compatriots. That's much better than a place to party, crash, party, crash, ad infinitum.)
Lake Waves didn't officially form until after its members graduated a couple of years ago. Tricky Friends, the group's debut album, is full of "familiar melancholy," as Mashrick put it. Drawing on a plethora of influences, such as folk, new wave, punk, country and shoegaze, the result is a wide-ranging, organic rock sound that teeters on the edge of '90s nostalgia. Even the font choice on the album cover hints at an iconic NBC sitcom.
The nine-track LP is full of savagely honest lyrics about the darker side of young love. Its descriptive language captures the feeling of being wrung dry and scraped out emotionally.
Compositionally, the album pivots between sounds that mirror the pain heard in the lyrics and sounds that contradict it. The album's primary propellant is its clanging guitar riffs, which blare and bang as Abdelrahman and Krasner switch back and forth on lead vocals from track to track.
"If there's an answer / I'd tell a mirror / Crush the shards into another beer," Abdelrahman sings on "Underpass." The song's depressed gait and chugging riffs match the mood.
But on the subsequent cut, "Interfaith Center," the musical vibe is brighter and bouncier, wobbling through several tempo shifts. Its guitars are more versatile, too, switching from lightly choppy to heavily severe.
Perhaps it's meant to mirror the song's emotional whiplash. What starts as an auspicious evening turns to terror. At the song's central pain point, Abdelrahman sings, "I locked myself inside that bathroom / And I sent him shots of my holy body ... Oh I wish I talk more / About all the horror / That makes up that precious night."
Tricky Friends is a promising start for Lake Waves. Produced by Rough Francis' Urian Hackney and mastered by Robot Dog Studio's Ryan Cohen, the album was in some of the best local hands to highlight and heighten the group's natural talents.
Tricky Friends is available on all major streaming platforms.