Worriers– Warm Blanket
Warm Blanket, the extraordinary fourth album from the Los Angeles-based group Worriers, found the project’s singer and central songwriter, Lauren Denitzio, having an epiphany. They realized, after years of recording and touring with an underground/punk aesthetic, that Worriers isn’t really a band; it’s a solo project. Thus, Warm Blanket possesses the heady discovery of an artist’s first album, but with a decade’s worth of aesthetic experience and wisdom behind it. The resulting record gives us a Worriers with a sparser sonic landscape (often only guitar or synth/keys, drums, and Denitzio’s beautiful voice and poetic lyrics).
Denitzio recorded and mixed all of Warm Blanket at their home, with Atom Willard (Against Me!, PLOSIVS, Social Distortion) providing drums remotely. The songs are brief in length, and constantly leave the listener wanting more. Denitzio plunges deep into memory here at times, looking for their roots as a musician, and recalling their early experiences with love and heartbreak, those bittersweet early journeys of the heart that never leave a person. But the album also offers some cutting ironic critique of the absurdity of trying to survive in late-stage capitalism, the struggles of which are perhaps what inspired them to ponder their past here.
“Doomscrolling,” the first track, immediately demonstrates Denitzio’s unique ability to write infectious pop songs about encroaching doom, as the lyrics spell out anxiety about various things in the world that are falling apart. In the chorus, they confess, “I keep my fingers crossed that it all collapses later.” But even as this collapse seems inevitable, their songwriting is pop perfection, so you might be standing at the edge of the end of the world, but you’ll be dancing with Worriers on the precipice.
“Prepared to Forget,” Warm Blanket’s melancholic second song, turns Denitizio’s focus from the horrors of the present to loves and losses of the past. The song finds them sorting through the disappointment and heartbreak of watching an old friend make the same self-harming mistakes over and over. The album continues on this more intimate memory trip for the next few songs, with the eponymous third track really putting the beauty of Denitzio’s voice front and center, building to one of the more rocking choruses on the release, where they shows off their guitar skills as well.
The fourth song, “Power Pop Mixtape,” one of the most fully upbeat tracks of the record, glimmers with the flirtations of youth in the 90s, when making someone a mixtape was a sweet gesture of admiration or seduction. The bridge of the song features Denitzio’s vocals suddenly processed differently, and the effect is of a voice traveling through time. The following track, “Creep,” begins with lyrics about “the tape you made me,” connecting the two songs directly. The sparseness of the instrumentation goes further on “Creep,” as well, with no drums, only guitar and Denitzio’s plaintive singing: “You don’t think you’re a creep, but you know that they do.” The pronouns of that chorus shift every time, just as our perceptions of ourselves and each other shift over time. It’s amazing how much feeling is packed into each of these brief songs. “Creep” clocks in at just over two minutes, but there is so much going on emotionally!
Worriers (photo by Kate Hoos)
“Pollen in the Air” concludes the intense and nostalgic tone of the middle of the album with a synth-drenched, slowly building power ballad, and the first truly driving bass line of the record. The song feels like being sun-drunk in summer and in love for the first time. With “Murder Ballad,” Warm Blanket effortlessly shifts in tone and theme, and for me, the shift was also temporal, from memory back to the flawed struggles of the present day. “Murder Ballad” features only piano and drums, and Denitzio’s haunting voice and words of desperation: “It’s not a problem unless you say something…so I killed him instead, with a baseball bat under my bed.” The potential for violence appears again in “Never Quite Kicks In,” a fantastic chillwave track describing the possibility of frustrated office workers crawling over their desks and throwing printers out windows. But the toxic positivity always reigns, and that rage never quite kicks in…maybe making it even more dangerous?
Warm Blanket concludes with the hesitant optimism of “Provisional Hope” and the slow build of “You Don’t Need Me,” and upon arriving at the end of the album, I immediately started over from the beginning. Whether it’s frustration with the present state of things or an urge toward sweet nostalgia that motivates you, turn out the lights, turn on Warm Blanket at top volume, and abandon yourself to the beauty of Denitzio’s new chapter of Worriers.
Warm Blanket is out now via Ernest Jenning Record Co and available on all major streamers.