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Quick Hits: Runnner / Stables

Last updated on January 6, 2022

One of One by Runnner (three n’s) is a melancholy folk-pop/indie-pop project for fans of Sufjan’s Michigan, Freelance Whales, and emo-punk lyrics. Opener “Heliotrope” is a multi-layered song that’s built on banjo, low-key synths, gloomy vocals, and introspective lyrics; it has all sorts of great pop hooks and memorable lyrical lines packed into 3:07. “Cause it’s nice outside/ and that makes me feel stupid / for letting myself get so low / am I wasting the weekend now / freaking out under the heliotrope” is a great passage, and the concluding “is this the conversation you want to have?” is haunting.

“New Sublet” is an incredibly sad song that will yet make fans of Darlingside happy. “Captain Stupido” is a Thundercat cover, which is definitely not what I expected out of a mopey acoustic-folk release, but it works really well–the vocalist inhabits the vibe of the narrator well, while the arrangement is dense and compelling. “Ur Name on a Grain of Rice” gets positively M83, introducing prominent saxophone to the towering mix. This is the big statement of the record, and it works, even though  “Heliotrope” is still the standout. “Skewed” takes the short collection home with an intimate, gloomy (yet hopeful) piece. (Shoutout to autotune in folk/indie music, let all your Bon Iver fan friends know!) One of One is Runnner’s sophomore EP,  so keep your ears out for more from the outfit. Overall: if you’re up for gloomy yet homey alt-folk/indie-folk stuff, this should be your jam.

Stables‘ Silhouettes is a straight-up folk-pop record, which is the sort of thing I haven’t reviewed in a couple years now. But the cream rises to the top, friends, and Silhouettes is very much the cream. This is like if the strummy goodness of old-school Fleet Foxes met the cheery vibes of Lord Huron and Vampire Weekend (“When I’m With You,” absolute hit “The Seminar,” “Red Wine & Birthday Cake”) with occasional dalliances in Jon and Roy fingerpicking (“Curtain Call,” “Unwind”) and even Jack Johnson chill (the title track). This is just absolutely fun. Even the sad songs are fun (“Marathon”). If you need some respite from this unfriendly and difficult year, you need to take Silhouettes for a spin. It’s brilliant. You can’t tell me that “The Seminar” doesn’t cheer you. Highly recommended.