The first full-length from Quaker Parents is the musical equivalent of a huge haul from a craft show.
Speaking as someone who has frequented roughly ten craft shows in the last twelve months, there’s something endearing about attending them. You’re connecting with people who put a ton of time and effort into their trade, and you’re probably buying stuff you won’t find outside the craft-sale-sphere. Listening to Quaker Parents’ first full-length is like going up to a booth and being so in love with what you find that you spend far more than necessary.
All of this is to say that Our Drawing Club feels like a handmade gift you will treasure forever. This project is perhaps the less well-known outfit of Mark Grundy and his twin brother J. Scott Grundy, but it feels like a place where Mark can freely experiment with musical styles while still maintaining fiendishly clever songwriting. The songs feel like a friend sharing thoughts with you, rather than something planned and calculated.
From a literary standpoint, there’s a lot to uncover in the lyrics and titles, like the assonance in “One Time Luv,” which manages to use an “oo” sound at the end of almost every single line. There’s something so charming about two songs being called “Manuscript of Low Blows” and “Pageant of the Close Foes.” I still cannot get over how goofy and perfect the line “We stand close, both in overcoats” is on the latter.
The sense of vulnerability throughout the record is what makes it so endearing. On “Improbable Friendship 1999” (another excellent title), Grundy switches back and forth between a tuneless sing-talk and clean singing without breaking a sweat. “Why Worry Now?” is a soft and tender synth-driven number where Grundy goes from comfortable to stressed-out in just two minutes. Behind a very glitchy beat on “Never That Baked In,” Grundy goes through a stream-of-consciousness tirade about his anxieties and insecurities.
Grundy also manages to find clever turns in vulnerable songs. “Not Addicted” contains a sense of optimism about love in general, but curiously, “I hope my heart never breaks” is sometimes followed by “I hope my phone never breaks.” Grundy immediately pivots on “Manuscript of Low Blows” in a few seconds: “Nothing ever seems to matter to you when you’re dead/Am I dead?”
You’ll always remember the divine baked goods and handcrafted clothing items you got at the craft show, just as you’ll always remember the charms of joining Our Drawing Club.