Standout Track: No. 5, “Achilles,” a zippy indie-rock breakup anthem. In a holding pattern that’s the musical equivalent of a dead-end relationship, guitarist Benjamin Griggs alternates between two near-neighbor chords as lead vocalist Scott Westfall delivers such phrases as “It’s all the same/Like I’ve lamented before” in a clipped, yelp-like vocal style that strongly recalls the early ’80s.
Musical Motivation: A few years ago, Westfall broke up with his then-girlfriend—for the fourth time. He suspected that the separation wouldn’t last, so he penned “Achilles” in a fit of frustration. “It was my Achilles heel,” he says. “I knew I couldn’t be away from her.” With the lines “What can I say/It seems it’s all been a bore,” Westfall hoped to steel his resolve. It didn’t work: The two were back together in less than a month.
This left Westfall, 34, in the awkward position of being in a relationship while performing a song that expressed his most pessimistic feelings about it. His girlfriend never heard “Achilles,” however: She had a policy of not attending the D.C. quintet’s practices or shows.
Unromantic Poetry: Westfall finally ended that particular doomed romance about a year ago. The song might have helped, he says, but it was his ex’s extended trip out of the country that cinched it. He’s currently engaged to “a wonderful person” whom he hopes “stays around for a long time.”
Still, this relationship has yet to inspire any music. “For me, it’s easier to write a song about a dysfunctional one than a successful one,” Westfall says. “Love songs always come out cheesy.”—Sadie Dingfelder