The title of St. John’s, Newfoundland band Family Video’s latest release Long Time Listener, First Time Caller makes me think of somebody driving across the country in the middle of the night. It’s just them and truckers on the road and they’ve found the local talk radio program where people call in to ask the host for some advice. So basically this scene from Sleepless in Seattle.
Family Video, J.King in particular, is the caller, recounting scenes of heartbreak and generally melancholy. But I don’t think that King wants or needs a response to the stories that are told on Long Time Listener, First Time Caller. This is King working through everything that’s happened and some stuff that never actually happened to King but the sentiment is familiar. We are the silent listener. “I just dress in black since i’ve been back & say hello to every cat in the neighbourhood where we used to live on the first floor, imagining that,” King sings the aptly titled “Sad Etc.” “You’re a mystery so much it seems/the most mysterious of my dreams,” they sing on “Kiss and Cry.”
King’s voice is set back behind roughed-up instrumentals (muddy but energetic) which altogether reminds me of bands like Palehound, Mothers, or Waxahatchee. On the standout opener “Year Without a Summer,” King’s voice has the same sting as the unshakeable frost of the song’s titular year while the sting on “It Would Help My Heart,” punctuated by a clean guitar riff, also leaves you scrambling. Another standout track “Peaceful Moon,” balances sweetness and sadness as Family Video think back to a day basking the sun and, eventually, the moon’s glow with sweaty palms and heart eyes.
Long Time Listener, First Time Caller is a confessional lo-fi pop treat whether you’re sleepless in Seattle, in St. John’s, or somewhere in between.
Top Tracks: “Year Without a Summer”; “Peaceful Moon”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)