Having not released anything as Mister Lies for a few years, Nick Zanca has teamed with Steven Rogers and producer Alex Thompson for a brand new project called Quiet Friend.
"Safe" is the first single to be taken from the band's self-titled debut album - due out in March 2018 - and it has a sound heavily indebted to some of the finest '80s indie pop music.
While Zanca, Rogers and Thompson are the core trio, Quiet Friend is something of a loose collaboration and the record features a large number of contributors. It's impressive, then, that Zanca's voice and personality are strong enough to act as a red thread through an eclectic album.
On "Safe", Zanca's voice, almost buried away in the track, shares a little common drama with Billy Mackenzie and Paul Buchanan. A touch reedy and authoritarian, it's immediately capitvating - and once washes of synths, electronic strings, ticking programmed drums and twinkling keys are added it makes "Safe" so much more than a period pastiche. Just to balance any fears of retro-ism, the handling of electronics recalls the work of Oneohtrix Point Never. The track - and the album as a whole - is an elegant, deep and nuanced look at the isolating effects of anxiety in a world that's not getting any smaller, and discovering a queer identity without succumbing to emotional and physical strains.
"'Safe' was one of the first demos Steven, Alex and I put together for the album," says Zanca. "To borrow a line from Arthur Russell, it's a reflection on losing your taste for the nightlife. The song went through several drafts before reaching its final form, but from the start we were trying to capture a claustrophobic night out where sub-bass and shallow, drunken conversation become indistinguishable. Play this one loud on a walk home from a bad night out."
Quiet Friend are an important band, and "Safe" sounds like just the beginning.