Worriers - Imaginary Life (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Imaginary Life (2015)

Don Giovanni Records

You don't know Lauren Denitzio, but after years of listening to her work fronting first The Measure [SA] and now Worriers, you may feel like you do. That's because Denitzio's songs tend to be windows into her soul, not in a melodramatic, emo sort of way, but more along the lines of a intimate, late-night conversation with a close friend, perhaps while working your way through a bottle of wine. This general theme continues on Imaginary Life, and in many ways the album feels like a culmination of everything Denitzio's work has been building to over the years.

If you're familiar with the band's 2013 release, Cruel Optimist, then you already know the sound. It's tight, melodic punk that's a bit more polished and less chaotic than The Measure [SA], rounded out by Denitzio's warm, inviting voice. On Imaginary Life though, the sound feels bigger, such that it could fill not only a basement or VFW hall, but a theater or even an arena. That's a credit to Laura Jane Grace's production, which plays up the band's best elements and gives Imaginary Life that "big rock record" feel.

While it may have the feel of a "big rock record," there's also an intimacy that most records of that sort lack, and that comes from Denitzio's lyrics and the way she presents them. Her words don't come off like the generic metaphors that too many songwriters use. Instead, her words are more authentic, and in turn, much more relatable. It doesn't sound like she's thinking about what makes a good subject for a song so much as she's taking her thoughts, feelings and experiences and setting them to music. The fact that her thoughts, feelings and experiences echo those of so many others in this community is a big part of what makes something so personal feel so relevant to others.

It's not all personal though, as Worriers pivot easily into the political realm on "Yes All Cops," one of the record's standout tracks. The song addresses America's continuing problems with police violence, as Denitzio scolds not only the cops for their obvious wrongdoing, but also the rest of us for our deafening silence on the issue. It's not a lecture though, it's more along the lines of a friend wondering why the rest of the gang isn't quite as impassioned about something so important.

In many ways, Imaginary Life is where it all comes together for Denitzio's work. The lyrics and voice have always been there, but musically everything about this record surpasses what's come before, both in terms of playing and production. Imaginary Life isn't the loudest record of the year, nor the most experimental or musically challenging. It is, however, one of the most authentic, and that alone makes it worth a listen. In fact, that also makes it one of the best releases of 2015.