Personnel: Lauren Denitzio (vocals, guitar); Rachel Rubino, John McLean (guitar); Mike Yannich (drums, background vocals); Louise Hanman (background vocals).
Plenty of punk bands with a political bent take it upon themselves to write rabble-rousing anthems intended to motivate audiences to chant along about whatever cause or social ill has made its way into the consciousness of the group's lyricist. Brooklyn's the Worriers take a different approach; songwriter and lead singer Lauren Denitzio has a lot to say about the world around her, but she's less interested in creating slogans than exploring the politics of daily life, and her songs often take a first-person perspective on how gender, class, race, and economics set up a maze that makes it hard for nearly anyone to move forward and find allies. The intelligent but engaging humanity of Denitzio's songs is one of the best things about the Worriers' first full-length album, 2015's Imaginary Life, and the mingled hope and cynicism of her lyrics are a fine match for her voice, which sounds like someone you'd overhear at the coffee shop saying something smarter and sharper than the other folks waiting for their Fair Trade. And if the Worriers don't sound quite as remarkable as Denitzio's songs, the band's tough but streamlined sound works well with these songs, giving the melodies a hooky but muscular attack and generating a wall of guitars (well, at least a fence of guitars) that firmly establishes their punk bona fides with a healthy sideline of energetic hard rock. The production by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! gives the music a forceful punch that makes the melodies all the more effective, and the guitar work from Rachel Rubino and John McLean and Mike Yannich's drumming confirm that the Worriers are real rock & roll for the people. Lauren Denitzio doesn't think she can save the world, but she'll make you think about the state of your planet and your community for half an hour with Imaginary Life, and the fact you can bounce around to it at the same time is a pretty great bonus. ~ Mark Deming