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Your Friendly Neighborhood: Overflow

The indie-rock of Your Friendly Neighborhood‘s Overflow is a ship in a bottle: each tune is wild, rambling, and yet still carefully developed; lush, expansive, yet carefully defined. If you’ve ever been fascinated by the romance of a ship in a bottle and then contrasted that to the painstaking ways in which they are made, you know what I mean.

The first way I heard of Overflow was via IC fave Zach Winters repping it on social media. There are tons of sonic connections between Winters’ work and YFN’s: both use chill electric and acoustic guitar as the starting point (but not the centerpiece) of their songs, employ dense arrangements to create hazy/cloudy/expansive soundscapes, and often draw the song’s focus from lead vocals to the arrangements (“Backroads,” “Fall in Line”). Sonic touchstones beyond Winters’ work are non-Emma Bon Iver (“Hello Mire”), a more organic James Blake (the title track), the vocal stylings of Coldplay (“Doubt”), and rainy day musicians like The Maravines (pretty much all the tracks).

The album isn’t just one long chillfest, though–YFN carefully ordered the album so that it builds in emotional and sonic intensity to the towering roar of penultimate track “II.” If you listen to “II” on its own, you could be forgiven if you thought you were listening to Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky–it is very much awash in distortion and cymbal bashing. But in the context of the record, it is the conclusion of a long crescendo that started at the very beginning of the record. It is satisfying. This sort of careful development of an individual song and the whole track order are examples of the meticulous care with which this album was created.

As if to refute a bit of its own (well-earned) grandeur, closer “Birth Mark” strips out most of the complex arrangements except for some vocal processing and lets Caleb Killian’s skill with a guitar and vocal melody shine. Listening to this track unlocks a different angle on the record; instead of being a hazy indie-rock experience, it can also be read as a indie-folk record gone huge. (It’s all in what you prioritize as you listen.)

If that last assessment sounds a bit abstract, it’s because this record inspires that sort of thinking in me–I have puzzled and pondered over this record as I’ve listened to it repeatedly, and I still feel like I’m just getting to know it. It has depth. I haven’t even begun to parse the lyrics, because there’s so much going on in the sonics. Overflow has the free-flowing soul of a poet filtered through the meticulous approach of a careful editor. In short, it’s as beautiful and mesmerizing as a ship in a bottle, and just as expertly crafted.

Check out a Kickstarter for the record here.