Blanket Boys release first full-length on New Year's Day

Joel Oliphint
Blanket Boys

New year, new music. Blanket Boys, the duo of Lisa Brokaw (Van Dale, Grunge Dad) and Joe Camerlengo (Van Dale, Classical Baby), digitally released the pair’s first full-length record — aptly titled The Album — when the ball dropped on 2020 (a physical release will follow in late February). It is unsurprisingly great.

Camerlengo and Brokaw recorded The Album themselves, and the record exudes a warm, mid-fi sound made with mostly acoustic instruments and quirky organ drones. Snippets of children talking and laughing evoke old home movies on VHS. Bits of conversation between Camerlengo and Brokaw also make their way into the recordings; “Soften” begins with a false start and ends with Camerlengo saying, “I thought that one was really good. Did you feel good about that one?” “Yeah, I think so,” Brokaw answers, sounding partially unconvinced despite the song’s undeniable, vulnerable beauty.

Brokaw takes the vocal lead often, and while it’s overly reductive to call The Album a breakup record, many of the songs find her working through heartache aloud. “I know I can be hard to love,” she sings on “Hard to Love,” while “Anybody” finds her trying in vain to be a fully formed adult (“I fold my laundry and wake up early”) in the aftermath of a broken relationship: “I’m afraid that you’re afraid of me/Though I loved you with all of my being/Wasn’t always human/Don’t know what I’m doing.”

In some ways, it’s a deeper, softer, more melancholy take on Brokaw’s recurring theme in the songs of Grunge Dad (RIP): “I feel weird.” On closing track “Other Other Road,” she seems to make an unsteady peace with moving forward. “I don’t think of you/Or where you’re going to,” Brokaw sings while fingerpicking a clean electric guitar. Later, she ends the song with a plea for closure that reveals a wound still raw underneath the bandages: “Please just hate me/Move on completely.”

The Album is out on streaming services now, with a physical release to follow. On Feb. 29, Blanket Boys will play a release show at It Looks Like It's Open alongside wyd and Val Glenn.