QTY’s debut album has been a long time coming. Songwriting partners Alex Niemetz and Dan Lardner have been writing songs since they were old enough to know how to write, but, at the age of 17, they finally came together to illustrate the beginning of QTY. Having been picked up by legendary indie label Dirty Hit (Wolf Alice, The 1975) after a few demos, they ran off to make their debut album in six weeks with Bernard Butler of Suede. The result is an indie throwback album that is reminiscent of The White Stripes, The Shins and, notably, The Strokes. Essentially an archetypal New York band, they also recall the likes of The Velvet Underground, Television and the Ramones too. For a debut album, this is a slick, sweet record featuring ten tracks that are substantial indie shots to the arm.
The New York connection is none more evident than on ‘Rodeo’, which sees Lardner taking responsibility of the lead vocals while Niemetz provides backing vocals. Lardner is a self-confessed glam rock fanatic and everything from the aloof and giddy chorus to the deliberated slurred delivery smacks of Lou Reed. However, they’re far from an imitation band as they themselves are very good world-builders with thoroughly modern pop sensibilities. QTY explore the mundanities of life, whether that be the anxieties of everyday existence or boring nights out, there’s a brilliant contradiction between the flashy dashes of excellent indie-pop where they find the happiness in the monotonous comings and goings of day-to-day life. They also create an excellent slice of New York life that means you can pretty much see the skylines and back alleys of the Big Apple. ‘Rodeo’ is an excellent start to the album and a smooth slice of glam rock.
Second track ‘Dress/Undress’ sees the duo bored of repeating the same mundane activities with the title a metaphor for the bookends of life. There’s an exciting chemistry between Lardner and Niemetz that further adds substance to their prolific output. Lardner’s vocals sound more implicative of Iggy Pop here, rather than Lou Reed, as he makes his way through the vocal ranges of legends. For example,‘Sad Poetic’ sees them channel Tom Petty, with a catchy chorus and an immense melody that appears to be doused in Americana; ‘Words for This’ sounds like the Ramones softer catalogue, while ‘Notify Me’ has the listenability of Television.
They aren’t always completely enamoured with the nostalgic greats, though. ‘Michael’ sounds like their contemporaries and fellow New Yorkers Public Access TV with its overarching verses that lead to its frantic, bubbly, euphoric chorus. There’s a sprinkling of early Kings of Leon and The White Stripes, too, with their fervour, zeal and earnestness. Meanwhile, penultimate track, ‘New Beginnings’, lowers the cadence, slowly winding the album down. It’s a relaxed ballad brimming with whimsical modesty and a luscious duet between Lardner and Niemetz. Niemetz takes the lead with her silky, plush vocals to make something calming and striking.
A debut album is supposed to be frantic, messy and doused with your influences and ideas, and QTY’s debut is exactly that. The surprising aspect, however, is just how complete it feels. There’s something innately cool and modern about the record, conjuring up images of a gentrified New York and the everyday millennial struggle. Each of the ten tracks feel like they should be on this record and they feel like they should be in exactly the place they are. It’s an extraordinary feat for the New York duo and, at such a young age, these two have the world at their feet.