Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
“I’ve been losing my edge lately,” Weakened Friends singer and guitarist Sonia Sturino admits on “Bargain Bin.” Those are the first words we hear on Quitter, the Maine trio’s sophomore album, and it sets the tone for the rigorous self-examination that follows. Sturino turned 30 during the pandemic, and her lyrics are fixated on the shifting sense of self that so often comes with hitting that milestone. She reevaluates toxic friendships (“Everything Is Better”), questions her chosen life path (“Quitter”), wrestles with apathy (“Tunnels”), and reflects on past mistakes (“25th”). “Honestly, I’ve just been working/ Trying to find something important I won’t fuck up for myself,” she sings on the album’s dramatic closing track, “Point of Interest.” Her exquisitely crafted indie rock sure feels like that something.
Weakened Friends are devoted to the blown-out yet tuneful side of ’90s alt-rock. On Quitter, they augment loud/soft dynamics with squiggles of expressionistic lead guitar and huge, sugary hooks. They have clear antecedents in bands like Veruca Salt, the Breeders, and Dinosaur Jr., whose J. Mascis lent a towering guitar solo to their last record. Nirvana’s shadow also looms large—the “hey, wait” that opens the chorus of “Quitter” feels like a deliberate nod to “Heart-Shaped Box.” Sturino’s voice even occasionally recalls Alanis Morrissette’s, another idiosyncratic singer whose pitchy yelping and penchant for sucking in breath mid-lyric belied her astonishing power and control.
It’s the vividness of Weakened Friends’ music that distinguishes them from the glut of current bands playing ’90s-inspired indie. The cutting specificity of Sturino’s lyrics is matched by the laser-guided precision of the hooks she uses to deliver them, and the crisp, full-bodied production job by bassist Annie Hoffman renders the songs in vibrant color. Anyone who still uses the term “college rock” is likely to connect with Quitter, but the uninitiated should find just as much to love.