Music Reviews

Quarterbacks Quarterbacks

(Team Love) Rating - 8/10

Round up a room of every adolescent archetype you can think of, and ask yourself which one is the “punk.” If you’re like most people, you’d aim for the easy target – the loud guy sporting an Elmers-fed mohawk and studded denim vest, who probably had his first beer at the age of 12 at his older brother’s house party and flips the bird more than unnecessarily often. However, I get the feeling that the members of Quarterbacks would see things differently. They’d likely point you to the scrawny, shy, awkward kid sitting alone in the corner that you probably didn’t even notice – the kind of kid you’ve heard say maybe three words ever and secretly writes poems and pines for mohawk guy’s girlfriend. To them, this sensitive little wimp is the most bad-ass punk on earth, and not because he spikes his hair or fights the system or can play a few power chords, but because he feels.

I can say all of this with confidence because this is the exact kind of spirit the New Paltz, NY trio brings forth in their brand of punk rock. With their simple, wiry instrumentation and singer Dean Engle’s shrimpy, sort of tone-deaf voice, Quarterbacks simply exude wimpy-ness from every pore in the way that only the twee-est of twee bands do. Adding to this – in no small portion, might I add – is Engle’s fascination with the opposite sex, which manifests itself in nearly every song on Quarterbacks. Whether it’s understanding them (“When you say you love me, do you just mean you miss me / Because I can’t tell the difference anymore”), obsessing over them (“I want to take pictures of you at every single moment  / but especially in the morning when the sun’s pouring through your windows”) fearing them (“I’m pretty sure you want to kiss me, but I’m too nervous to lean in and find out if I’m right”), or everything in between, Engle approaches his feminine subjects with the kind of awkward, bleeding heart fascination only true dweebs would understand.

Now, a band mixing the sensitivity of twee with the aesthetics of punk is nothing new, and if you're smart you’d understand just how one in the same they really are. But what makes Quarterbacks such a peculiar – and rather addicting – record is just how in the red Quarterbacks keeps things at all times. Blazing through 19 hyper-lean tracks in just over 20 minutes, Quarterbacks is essentially the Scum of indie-punk records, with the band successfully cramming catchy jangly verses and choruses in minute-long, blast-beated bursts. It sounds like this would all blow over like a weird, twitchy blur, but Quarterbacks’ hooks and songwriting chops are so incredibly tight and catchy that each moment feels like its own accomplished statement, despite typically only having a few seconds to prove this. Besides, the group’s commitment to speed and brevity only further highlights the restless anxiety and passion that fuels Quarterbacks big, nerdy hearts, making the emotions behind their brief songs feel all the more intense in a way that even the loudest, most macho hardcore band couldn’t stand up to. Eat your heart out, mohawk guy!