Living Alone by Old Best Friend
Album review by Hannah of www.rockmycommute.com
Living Alone is the debut full-length release from the band called Old Best Friend (let’s say OBF) that just came out in June of this year. Since you probably have not heard of OBF, go ahead and start with a Google search to find this guy – personally I love the artist’s mini bio on his bandcamp page (https://oldbestfriend.bandcamp.com/): “Mike Comite is your Old Best Friend. He lives in Brooklyn. Come over and he’ll cook you a mediocre dinner sometime.” What a guy! Mike includes a simple selfie that resembles Jason Schwartzman of “Rushmore” fame, and he also adds the welcome news that he has a live show in Philly coming up next weekend (July 25). See if you can check him out! Maybe a little road-trip is in order.
The album itself is 11 tracks of earnestly-attempted music that can be described as a blend of alternative / indie/ emo / songwriter styles, all bundled together in a release with a simple black-and-white drawing on the cover. I think the image for the album art is a little freaked-out and lonely looking, but I guess that is fitting for an album called (and about, apparently) – living alone. The song titles and lyrics are cute and clever without being overly intellectual or depressing. In this way it is kind of a Ben Lee Grandpa Would album for a slightly older set of fans.
“Cold Came With” is an interesting choice for an opening track. It is a little screamy, dissonant, and a bit, well – maniacal – but it is worth sticking through the reverb and feedback in order to experience some really neat and unexpected moments when a bit more melody pops in – only to be interrupted again by really raw and fuzzy guitar.
You’ll notice that I have a hard time describing the overall sound of this artist. Do you remember back in the early 2000s, when copies of “The Perfect Kellulight” by Flick were in the bargain bin at your discount record shop or used CD store? I have not thought of this artist in nearly 15 years until I heard OBF last week. Flick is the closest vocal and style comparison I can think of – hopefully they are now not so vague that this reference is no longer helpful! There’s definitely a little bit of the Shins in there too – imagine a bright, shiny, youthful vocal tone with a little bit of basement -band “reckless abandon” thrown into the execution of each song.
I listened to the album in its entirety, some songs multiple times – and I think that the main reason I wouldn’t have this playing in my car everyday is that Mike’s vocal style is just personally not my preferred sound. So you see, the whole album in chronological order is a bit much all at once (for me, anyhow). There are definitely tracks that I really liked – I’m pretty sure that “Pretty Sure” is my favorite song on the album. I’d say it is upbeat and energetic with fun harmonies and good rhythms. The title track though is a bit more of a downer – but again this is fitting for “Living Alone”. It includes a sampling of piano that adds to the slightly more emotional effect on this one.
“King of Nowhere” kind of annoyed me with the overly simplified melody – but to be fair it contains a worthy amount of emo guitar complexity in the background, and again, there are the signature cheeky lyrics that are too witty and on-point to discount – “what’s done is done / a setting sun has no obligation to rise.” The song “Divide your Sleep” is possibly one of the most angsty on the album – Mike reaches almost Linkin Park intensity at times! Other tracks are a little bit upbeat; some more stripped down and therefore singer-songwriterly – but none seem trite.
I think that the last track (“Now I Don’t”) is a strong a finish as anyone could ask for – listenable, mellow, and thoughtful without being too slow or dragged-out. You might completely disagree with me about Mike’s vocal style, and therefore just fall in love with this otherwise creative and well-executed debut album. Another approach to appreciating this album would be to mix in the OBF songs with some other artists for more variety – in this setting the sprinkling of an “old best friend” would be welcome breaks punctuating a playlist of other favorites, and this would highlight well OBF’s fresh approach and enjoyable lyrics.