On The Light of the Well, Brooklyn-based punk band Good Looking Friends don’t shy away from nostalgic influences. From the cover, which features wispy black-and-white photos of a blackout city skyline, colonial suburban homes, and a forest, to the blatant 80s and 90s indie rock aesthetics in the music, poignancy is evident. The album is made of the sort of distorted guitar, raw vocals, and sentimental lyricism that transports you to a dingy basement, or a college dorm room, or simply the recesses of the emotional mind. Good Looking Friends infuse high production quality into this reminiscent music; the result is at times charming, and at other times predictable.
The band, comprising Zach Fischer, Sean Nolan, Adam Rossi, and Shelley Washington, is fully in-sync on The Light of the Well. Experimentation looms within the overarching sound of fuzzy guitars and yearning chord progressions. Intertwining instrumentals and the occasional use of unusual sounds add bits of intrigue into the otherwise standard setup.
While the songs are each crafted with precision and clarity, they begin to bleed into each other. It’s easy to get caught in the quintessential sound of indie rock à la Built to Spill rather than forge a new path. Good Looking Friends makes up for this seemingly inevitable monotony by peppering in a few songs that create different atmospheres. “Tanagra,” the second to last track on the album, is a wigged-out instrumental track, winding down distorted paths of electric guitars and pummeling drums. The simple choice to forgo lyrics creates a new intrigue, finding poignancy in the sound of roaring instruments rather than aching voice.
Another intriguing moment arrives with the opening of “Lawman,” where the keyboard plinks a quirky melody reminiscent of a video game theme song. Here, the music is infused with a newfound playfulness, dressed up in layers of standard rock band sounds and off-kilter themes. This infusion of new melodic material proves delightful — the song is one of the most memorable on the album.
The Light of the Well succeeds most in its warmth. Good Looking Friends frequently plays shows at beloved Brooklyn haunts like Bushwick Public House, a coffee-shop-bar-music-venue adorned by colorful graffiti and a small television that plays Power Rangers and the Great British Baking Show. On The Light of the Well, they channel that image, bringing the feeling of camaraderie to a recording.
The sound of 80s and 90s indie rock is all-too familiar, but Good Looking Friends embraces this sentimentality, creating music that immediately feels like going to a show in a basement with your friends. It doesn’t really need to be the newest sound on the scene; familiarity is not a concept to necessarily shy away from. Embracing the music that keeps memory alive, whose comfort exists in its straightforwardness, will never go out of style.