On this record, NQ Arbuckle’s brand of alt-country has evolved to encompass prominent piano parts, poppy alt rock songs and, lyrically, a tempered cynicism and casual, loving gratitude.
Quinlan’s lyrics tend to pair the mundane with the absurdly exaggerated (“Tell me where it hurts and I’ll move aside for traffic”) or play on clichés (“Death, I’m scared of you tonight”).
And the band tackles heavy shit like early childhood memories (on Vic Chesnutt cover Panic Pure, with an instrumental that includes fireworks), sickness (on college rocky Hospitals) and frustrated love (on standout piano ballad I Wish That My Sadness Would Make You Change).
With its unfailing rhythm section, the album propels itself into the future, but thematically it looks forward, too, juxtaposing talk of chores and worries with cinematic celebrations of tattered-at-the-edges but still-intact love.
Top track: Hospitals