A wise man once said “Brevity is the soul of wit,” but he forgot to mention that brevity can also be the soul of scorchingly awesome pop music (way to fail, Shakespeare!).Quarterbacks’ new self-titled album comes in at a sparse 22 minutes, every one of those minutes replete with energy and enthusiasm.
Coming fresh off of the news about Tom Brady, let’s focus on some Quarterbacks that we can trust. Calling upon the grand tradition of emo albums from the early aughts, almost every single song on the self-titled album is about a girl: getting together with one, breaking up with one, ruminating on one. Romance is the trajectory for this album. Twee-tinged pop punk makes its return (welcome home, old friend) in the two minute songs. Dean Engle‘s dedication to romantic exploration is admirable and convincing, in a sea of ironic and jaded indie albums.
The structural simplicity of the songs, combined with the quixotic veracity of the lyrics, makes for an absence of masculine posturing. The hopeless romanticism in lyrics like, “I wanna be the last boy to love you,” in “Last Boy” shows the earnest sincerity of Engle’s songs. And referring to himself as a “boy” demonstrates a charming lyrical vulnerability among the frenetic drum beats and four-chord progressions that is thematically carried throughout the album.
But the album isn’t without its more self-aware parts. Engle knows that for him romantic love is the only thing on the menu, like in “Usual,” where he admits, “I’m in love as usual.” Or “Simple Songs” when Engle turns the eye on his music, blending cynicism and practicality, he acknowledges the ephemeral nature of being a pop musician and that if this is the success that he sees, it’s enough.
These snippets of directness cut through the dreamy lovelorn songs, balancing the album before it becomes saccharine. While a good amount of the songs appeared on their two previous EPs, Quarterboy and Sportscenter, compiled together they serve as a personal narrative of the individual experiences of Engle and his various relationships.
As the songs zip by at a rapid pace, the listener is transported into the world of heartsick breakups and the initial flush that comes with new crushes. And they get to experience the unique nature of what it’s like to love, and lose, and gripe about girls when you’re a twentysomething. It’s not a bad world to live in.