Pill Friends // Band Crush
By Allison Kridle When you live in the suburbs of Philadelphia (or any suburbs for that matter) I can’t imagine there’d be anything else to do besides drugs, drinking, and creating. Pills or no pills, the indie rock band Pill Friends, must have spent a lot of time writing and producing music in their small town of New Hope, Pennsylvania considering they released two EPs and two LPs just last year. Even though the insanely talented four piece released so much in so little time, I get the sense the early 20-somethings spent their days and nights thinking about the significance of life and where we fit into the universe. For me, listening to Pill Friends feels like a mix of taking drugs, going to church (I won’t say which one), and being alone. In other words, I’m in a meditative, introspective, and reflective state listening to Pill Friends. Lead singer Ryan Wilson vocalizes about past drug use, religion, and philosophy in his weeping Conor Oberst-esque voice. Both Wilson and Oberst seem extremely self-aware, but Pill Friends is not quite the Bright Eyes break-up album you may have listened to when you were in high school.
With Pill Friends you get a generous amount of fuzz, clear and adept string work, energetic rhythms, and a whining guitar here and there. There’s also a spectacular cello played by Abby Trunfio who also dabbles in vocals. In the unblemished rhythm section you’ll find bassist Davis Cook and drummer Kyle Schwander. One of the many Pill Friends’ songs that could easily be termed as catchy is “Satan is Your Master Now,” off their first full-length album Blessed Suffering. The lyrics are intense, but the melody and beat tell you differently. Wilson sings, “Slit your wrists to bleed out slow / inside your sadness inside your home / fake it til you’re real / you can’t recognize yourself in anything / satan is your master now.” No matter who your master is, you won’t be able to help yourself from violently singing along with Wilson and fighting the urge to dance, vigorously head bang, or whatever your movement preference may be. Although the contrast between dark and heavy lyrics feels satisfying and cathartic against a buoyant beat or melody, Pill Friends engulf us further into gloom with tracks like “Abortion Ceremony” from their latest LP Child Sacrifice. The low cello practically drags you through the blackness to the rough guitar executing the soft yet gripping melody. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a gentle wail that serves as a pleasant white noise throughout the track. So far Pill Friends has shown us the bittersweetness of being. Even though you’re probably going into a dark place listening to the punk band, at least you’re still listening and you’re still questioning.