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Review: ‘The Iliad and the Odyssey and the Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick’

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania band, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (TGAPK), breaks back into the scene after a four-year hiatus with their emotionally loaded LP, The Iliad and the Odyssey and the Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. More than just the long album title and band name will pull you in, TGAPK has crafted pieces with expertly crafted instrumental swells and story-telling lyricism.

The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a six-person group that includes the talents of vocalists and musicians Ben Curttright and Becky Hanno, drummer Alyssa Resh, guitarist Sean Kelley, bassist Mike Foster, and violinist Ana Hughes Perez. The group has been creating slowcore, orchestral rock pieces since their first album, Ways of Hearing released in 2020. TGAPK’s sophomore album continues this vibe, “The LP captures the world coming back from isolation and appreciating a newfound joy and reflection as the group have refined their sound.”

The band released a handful of tracks ahead of the LP release, starting with the song, “April 25” which all too perfectly aligned with the album release date. The piece includes sweet vocals from Hanno that describe clear and illustrative images, like “The wishing well froze over, all that’s left there was the couch // Which sort of needs replacing since thе cats all clawed it out.” The track gives listeners a preview of what to expect from the rest of the album. TGAPK mixes indie vocals and warming violin solos to create an all-encompassing and beautiful sound.

“Mr. Settled Score” was the second song the band released ahead of the LP. This piece features a more somber sound that is reminiscent of the group’s first album. In addition to vocals from Curttright, this piece also highlights vocals from bassist Foster. The band’s emotional lyricism is heard in this song with lyrics like, “How come every time we go to war and march downtown against the war // the people on the other side keep dying anyway.”

TGAPK then released the track, “Wild Rose” which highlights the band’s strong use of acoustic guitar. This is one of the many pieces on the LP that highlight the group’s collective musical talent on a variety of instruments including the violin and xylophone. Listeners can hear vocals from both Cuttright and Hanno in this song. Their unique voices blend beautifully to create the dynamic sound that is The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.

“Tightrope Walker / Stranger, in These Dark Times” was the final track released ahead of the album. The piece splits almost exactly in half, switching from a wistful song told through a metaphor of walking a tightrope, to an upbeat sound with punchy drum beats. I enjoy the use of the break in the middle of the song and the impact that it has on the overall storytelling of the piece.

The song “Leaf” is the first track on the album and begins with solemn vocals from Curttright. The piece begins slowly before exploding in energy. Almost as fast as it picks up, the sound cuts off in a seemingly abrupt ending to the song. While the intentionality of this choice may not be clear to this writer, it does a fantastic job of pulling in listeners with a peculiar ending.

“Hole Underneath the Surface of the Swimming Pool” is heavily driven by the most breathtaking violin solos and is arguably the most beautiful song on this record. The piece steadily builds to quiet, delicate vocals singing, “And when they come for us, I hope you’ll feel enough.”

“First Time” is the shortest piece from the 10-track record and features descriptive lyrics from Cuttright. The words flow like a conversation with an old friend and further instill the cozy feeling created by the LP.

“System of One” is a solitary anthem with self-declarative and catchy lyrics like “Nobody knows me and I like it like that.” Each verse builds beautifully into the chorus guided by elegant violin chords. This was my favorite song on the record as I found it equally empowering as it was soothing. I especially liked the ending lyrics sung by Hanno, “Nobody’s a system of one.”

“Midwestern Home” is written with a personal adoration for the midwest presumably from Cuttright who originally hails from Nebraska. Like many of the other songs on this album, this track features artful instrumental solos, which in this case wraps up the original pieces by the band. The mix of sentimental statements towards the Midwest especially stands out to me as that is where I too call home.

The album ends with a track titled “Clair de Lune” and at first glance, I expected this song to be an ode to the infamous Claude Debussy tune with the same name. However, upon listening I was surprised to hear that it was, in fact, Clair de Lune covered by the band. TGAPK’s choice to end with this fully instrumental piece solidifies the band’s talent as musicians. Not only were they able to flawlessly execute an iconic piece, but they made it a fitting end to the overall cozy vibe of the LP.

The release of TGAPK’s sophomore album highlights the incredible talent to come out of the Philadelphia music scene. The LP creates a serene and peaceful feeling that aligns with the band’s triumphant return. You can tell how much work went into this album with how well crafted and executed each piece is. The instrumental solos are incredible and mesh wonderfully with their emotionally charged lyrics. If you are a fan of indie music that you can just relax to, I highly recommend checking out The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick!

Check out The Illiad and the Odyssey and the Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick which is out now via Count Your Lucky Star Records!

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