February 7, 2017

EP: Tall Friend - Tawl Friend

Tall Friend proves that sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout.

Tall Friend’s new release Tawl Friend is one for the tender-hearted. The EP is full of sweet songs of seclusion that act as sneak peaks into songwriter Charlie Pfaff’s struggle for peace of mind and validation. The five tracks are fragile, pensive, and just there to keep you company during bouts of loneliness. In opener “termites,” Pfaff connects the feelings of love to being devoured by the disturbing pests, ending on the all-too-relatable note of “I’m in love and I’m so dumb.” The insect references continue in “cockroach,” but this time a synth follows behind their vocals as they sing, “Tell me what you’re thinking / What’s been on your mind? / I am the queen of guessing games / but tonight I am just tired.” The contrast of their soothing voice with the unsettling lyrics creates a unique space for the the insecurity of exhaustive paranoia. The plucked riffs accented by the soft snare and cymbal hits in “c” lead the isolating line, “I have never been held or touched by anyone.” In standout “suf,” the subtle rhythmic shifts build into the strongest moment of the release. The melodies are representative of the storm that's mentioned when Pfaff warns, “You are going to be caught in the middle of it all.” The baritone guitar whirls in “guts” behind coming-of-age sexual stories in the context of virginity as a social construct. They sing, “You will always be nothing but magic to me,” on repeat until the subject believes it.

This trio of Pfaff, Cale Cuellar, and Jesse Paller have mastered the art of instrumental interactions and augmentations by alternating notes and beats and filling in any empty spaces in unexpected ways. This is a sonic characteristic indicative of their fellow Exploding in Sound colleagues, but Tall Friend remains different than their labelmates. At first listen, they are more gentle, but the lyrical content is not. While these songs are more subdued, that does not make them any less powerful. Tawl Friend is proof that sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout.


Listen to Tall Friend on bandcamp.

Katryn Macko is a Virgo who loves romantic comedies, karaoke, and bagels. She has her BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University and currently works at Reverb.com in Chicago, IL. She is also the certified #1 fan of the Bud Light Lime-A-Rita brand.