On the sophomore effort from Stove, entitled Stove’s Favorite Friend, they are on the cusp of greatness. For several reasons that I will go into for this review, this band has showcased a true potential for their unique brand of 90’s-esque rock and roll that is pleasant on the ears. Beating to their own drum by quietly releasing this LP mid-week, on Halloween, only adds to the mystery surrounding this four-piece band from Newton, Connecticut.
Starting off the record with the subdued “Safe Guy,” the album is centered around the emotions of guitarist and lead vocalist Steve Harlett (formerly of the Indie Rock band, Ovlov) during a difficult break-up. The emotions he carries through the record are fairly somber and difficult to process, much like a relationship feels like. He is able to encapsulate the wide range of thoughts that enter our minds when a friendship or relationship ends and our worlds are suddenly left spinning.
The band, which is rounded out by guitarist Mike Hammond, bassist Alex Molini and drummer/vocalist Jordyn Blakely, are a very tight unit and you can tell that they are in-tune with each other. Their unique parts that they bring into their songs are cohesive and don’t feel like they are being forced. This is particularly true on songs such as, “Mosquiter,” where drummer Blakely gets the beat rocking early and often, while the dual-guitar attack of Hammond and Harlett play nicely off each other. Molini’s driving bass line makes this a perfect choice for the first single for a record that has some nice moments to pluck from. The song is the one I would start with as a true introduction to newer listeners of Stove’s work.
“Duckling Fantasy” features the breathy vocals of drummer/vocalist Jordyn Blakely, and serves as a nice change of pace in the early stages of the fuzzy guitar rock sound that the band was likely going for. Other standout tracks that I kept coming back to were the acoustic-driven build-ups in “Animortal,” and the solid riffs and breakneck beats of “Stiff Bones.” The last track, “Annoying Guy,” features a beautiful piano introduction, only to break aggressively into a wall of guitars and noise. It’s on moments like these that I see the potential in this group, and hope they continue to build off of their work here.
Overall, this band is very close to hitting their home run of a record. Maybe the timing of Harlett’s break-up affected the mood and the direction of the LP, and it didn’t resonate as much with me at this time in my life. However, this is an artist that I feel definitely should be kept an eye on, as they are not that far off from making a significant impact on the Indie Rock scene. This is one of those records that I had a tough time absorbing, but I feel it has several redeeming qualities about its sound and themes that may be one that I revisit at a different time.