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.
Frontman Dean Engle plays the role of the hopeless romantic who’s constantly fumbling and missing his chances at love. Many of these songs previously appeared on Quarterbacks’ 2014 Quarterboy and Sportscenter EPs, the former being more in line with solo, acoustic bedroom demos. The tracks work fine separately, but when all put together, they form a more cohesive narrative of breakups in middle America.
Though the 19-track, 22-minute album zips by at a Black Flag pace, the songs feel more akin to Calvin Johnson’s monotone confessionals. Engle’s voice is meek and exposed, though he still manages to assert himself over the pummeling drums and sharp guitar riffs. On opener “Usual”, Engle, drums surging behind him, relatably tells himself to get rid of his ex’s phone number. Similarly, on “Knicks”, he describes inviting a friend over to watch basketball on mute, put on a record, and talk about his buddy’s recent breakup.
While these moments give a glimpse into life as a lovesick twentysomething, Engle’s best are the ones that feel most unique to him. One of the most devastating points on the album comes at the end of “Pool”, when he quietly recalls, “One time I showed you a song/ You only thought that it was kind of good/ I never played it again/ It wasn’t even about you.”
It’s Engle’s overthinking of every scenario, evidenced by the mathematical analysis of the length of time he’s known his new crush on “Point Nine”, that makes him so endearing. There’s no flashy proclamation or social commentary here — just a glimpse into love and loss in the ll-de-sac.
Essential Tracks: “Center”, “Pool”, and “Last Boy”