The Goalie's Anxiety At the Penalty Kick- Ways of Hearing (Album Review)
Ways of Hearing by Philadelphia band The Goalie’s Anxiety At the Penalty Kick reminds me a lot of a fragile glass vase, ready to break when you give it the slightest gaze, but somehow stays upright. There are moments where this metaphorical ‘vase’ may break and shatter into millions of tiny pieces, but the band finds a way to glue them all back together in an instance. The Goalie's Anxiety At the Penalty Kick have created a perfect album to listen to in the moment, it’s lush combination of soft, breakable voices, soft string arrangements and calming acoustic guitar licks make this album the perfect soundtrack to your fall morning. But it's so much more than just a pleasant, emotional listen. It’s also a deeply thoughtful record full of interesting things to ruminate on. Ways of Hearing embarks on various journeys of thought and reflection in a new and refreshing way.
The album starts with probably the strongest track by way of ‘An Olive Coat.’ This song was such a brilliant intro to an album that really will grow on you with multiple listens. From the beginning the band shows us we are going to be in for a very delicate experience, as we are greeted with a soft and lost voice singing about finding something that someone he felt a connection to at one point left in the closet they used to share. Metaphorical or literal, this song works so well and portrays the hurt that comes from thinking about or finding something that held weight in a previous relationship.
The first half of Ways of Hearing is full of songs that could easily be midwest-emo classics that mostly touch on feelings of loneliness and heartbreak in an honest way. After ‘An Olive Coat’, we are gifted with ‘We Love You So Much’, a six and a half minute song that I was quick to write off, but the band captivated me with this song which again seems to be again about missing someone who you’ve spent so much time with, sharing a place, and the changes that come with them moving on. This song touches on where the album seemingly breaks apart with the heavy last minute that just really tears into your soul, but comes back together when the disjointed feeling beginning of ‘Jars Filled With Rain.’ I love the visuals we get in the beginning of the song, with our vocalist singing in a dizzying tone of voice:
‘We all forgot to dim the lights and shut off the faucet,
When morning comes the laundry room
Will be filled with water.’
Is this the most thoughtful lyric on this record? Absolutely not, but for some reason it really just paints a picture that immediately gets branded into my head. This group of musicians really knows how to capture someone’s attention, as the great songs just continue to rain on us one by one.
‘The Best of All Possible Worlds’ is a track that I think may be the most unique on this record, as our male vocalist sings about a criminal who has just died that they read about in the newspaper and starts to really think deeply about the life this person lived, and just longs for a conversation with them, which is a very beautiful thought to me personally. Is it dark? Yes, in a way, but it’s also an honest take on humanity and works well for the progression of this album.
‘The Cat Stands on My Arm’ makes even more illusions to cats, which seem to be a constant object throughout the record and something that seems to tie songs together. I don’t quite know the overall significance of cats to the band, but I really do like that we have a constant object that seems to have a certain mysterious connection throughout the entirety of Ways of Hearing. My best guess is that this cat was important to our male vocalists and his past love interest, and it was something that they bonded over, and now he's left with this cat who misses the other person who used to be a part of this cat and our main vacalitst’s life, but I have no evidence to back this theory up. As a whole ‘The Cat Stands on My Arm’ is an absolutely breathtaking song, the band doesn’t exactly switch anything up on this song, or throughout the whole record, for that matter, but the combination of the strings, soft voice, acoustic guitar and the light keyboard playing are just enough to keep this one interesting. I will admit, this song was almost close to being forgetful, but then something as small as the vocal delivery we receive the second time our male vocalist sings, ‘They’re killing all the cattle// breaking all their ribs’ was weirdly enough for me to really continue listening to this song over and over again, and now I am proud to say that this is one of my favorite tracks throughout this record.
I feel as if the beginning of the downfall of this record, from a personal standpoint, comes by way of ‘Winston’s Theme.’ I don’t give bands a hard time for putting interlude type tracks throughout their records, because I feel as if they serve a purpose, and I actually really love the xylophone playing we get on this track, personally. I think it's a really fun transition, but to me, it resembles a wall to the second half of this record that has actually been super enjoyable to me. After ‘Winston’s Theme’ I can’t help but become a little tired of the way The Goalie’s Anxiety At the Penalty Kick crafts their songs. I think the first five tracks at the beginning of the record all worked for me because they did resolve themselves in a way that kept the listener active, overall they kind of felt the same, but did enough to change it up and give the listener certain peaks and valleys to listen closely for. The last 4 songs on this record don’t exactly do it for me. ‘God’s Country’ feels so cold at the beginning, but I don’t exactly see anything exciting structurally going on in this particular song. ‘Joseph Stalin’ again, is a very good song, but for some reason it doesn’t do enough for me. Typically I am one to forgive mixing and stuff, but our female vocalist’s mic just feels so loud here and I think it really takes away from our guitar playing on this song. ‘Closer’ has a great second half, but again, overall, it doesn’t do enough to get it towards the quality that the first half of Ways of Hearing possesses. Our closing track ‘Everyone Around Us’, while I can see the emotional weight it puts on this record, I just am left wanting more by way of resolution on this record, especially something that could be as powerful as this last song.
Ways of Hearing, is a record that is definitely worth your time, especially if you are a fan of emo, particularly music that sways towards feeling like Midwest Emo. It’s a record with a very solid first half, but doesn’t exactly carry through on quality throughout the entirety of the record. The Goalie’s Anxiety At the Penalty Kick does a great job at making a delicate piece of art that finds a place in your head through multiple listens, and gets rooted into your identity in a powerful way.
Favorite Tracks: An Olive Coat, We Love You So Much
Least Favorite Track: God’s Country
Listen to 'An Olive Coat', from The Goalie's Anxiety At the Penalty Kick's new record, Ways of Hearing, below: