There is something especially rewarding about keeping up with an artist's album rollout. Each song serves as a faithful reminder of the big project to come. And, although you’re technically experiencing the aftermath, you still feel at one with the journey, which grants you the privilege of claiming seats as a number one supporter who's been here “since the beginning.” Regardless of technicalities, it still feels nice to be right about these things. Especially when we’re talking about Richie Quake and his debut album, I Want Some!.
Presented as a glimpse into Richie’s life, from its inception, I Want Some! was framed in a retracted and meditative lens. “It seems to me that our beautiful modern American culture conditions us to believe that our lives are not really worth paying attention to unless we are doing something post-able” he says of the performative and glamorized nature of social media. However, angled away from cyber romantics and into his heart, he was able to focus on himself and the things that might not be deemed post-able to others. While this might feel counterintuitive by the standards of current main character trends, the product is an honest and relatable retelling of the human condition. Relationships, indecision, desires and everything in between; I Want Some! is all about the cycle of emotions we experience in our day to day lives.
Once you’ve sat down and angled your lens inwards, you eventually come to realize that it is indeed the smaller details that can reveal the most about our emotional states and inner workings. And when it comes to I Want Some!, every detail is accounted for. Take the opening track “Rolling Around” for example. Richie starts off the song, by immediately painting a picture, and later progressively coloring in the details, line after line. (“I clean my room, and then it gets filthy. Clean it again and know that you feel me.") Bearing just enough detail, he effectively supports the cyclical nature of the song through each verse and chorus, a pattern that continues throughout the album.
While subtle lines are used to describe large scale moments, there is nothing sonically or consistently subtle about this record. If the four preceding singles and the entirety of the album are indicative of anything at all, it is that Richie’s gone electric. Compared to his previous EP Voyageur, which had more of a kaleidoscopic and hazy-synth feel, I Want Some! shifts between heavily distorted guitars, wailing solos, and earth-bound basslines, with the occasional acoustic touch. A product of Richie’s doing, along with various New York-based artists, he partially credits this change to the New York scene, and his first live experience at Junior Varsity’s 2019 festival A Fucking Weekend, which left him thinking, “... my next album [needs] to feel heavy as fuck and have energy so that I [can] just go hard with the crowd.”
As for the abrasive nature of the album, it was mostly the product of post-lockdown exertion. As restrictions and fear subsided, Richie and his collaborators allowed themselves to let loose of the stifling feelings felt at the height of the pandemic. "I think after the lockdowns, everyone felt a lot of pent-up energy,(...) We all just wanted to let off steam, so that's why I feel like the album has so much more of a rock feeling than my previous music.”
Being the “Modern mouthpiece of the New York indie renaissance” it isn’t much of a surprise that he rounded up the best of his contemporaries to contribute to his debut. Namely, Morning Silk, Middle Part, Blonder, Sur Back, Andreas Stravopolis, Tabitha Aryn Ellin, and Anna Shoemaker (who appears on the single “Crawl” ) are all integral pieces to the bigger picture that is I Want Some!. Speaking of the scene, he enthusiastically proclaims, “The New York scene is super strong right now! (...) NYC has always been a place for innovation and creativity and I think it's just a matter of keeping that spirit alive.” Well, from the looks of it, the scene is alive, well, and most importantly, thriving.
If you are listening along with me, you're most likely halfway through the album and currently enjoying the cascading “OneFourThree.” And if you really are keeping up, you’ve probably noticed a pattern by now. Between the first and sixth tracks, none of them have made it beyond the three minute mark. The second you comfortably settle into a track and find yourself singing along to the chorus, Richie calls time, cutting your day dream short – something I would find annoying if the rest of the album wasn’t so good. Turns out the short running time isn’t much of a coincidence, but another fine detail in Quake’s chef-d’oeuvre. And while there isn’t much real loss felt when listening to the album, this does get me thinking about the possibility of there being an extended version of “Like Smoke” (my personal favorite) tucked away on a hard drive somewhere in Soho.
Closing on a familiar note, the last two songs on the album are singles released months prior to this release. Both exploring desire in different respects, “Crawl” and “Cherry Red” encompass the project in a way any listener can appreciate. “Crawl” tying together love, introspection and existentialism, and “Cherry Red” serving as his final notes on harmful cycles and self-destruction. By the end of the album, I felt content and as odd as it may sound, in harmony with Richie's and my own emotions. Although the material does center around the singer's personal experiences, the space between each line allowed for some reckoning of my own. This reminds me of something he wrote in response to a question about his creative flow. “Music is incomprehensible,” he said “It’s magic!”.
In many ways, I Want Some! is Richie's ode not only to life’s cycle, but also community. An ode to the ragers, and silent contemplators. An album celebrating the ordinary beauties and woes of life.