Is that a window or a TV screen? Amidst the vivid, tantalizing feeling and power of Romantic Comedies, the second album by Foozle, which comes out tomorrow, that question is one of the many self-interrogations that gets accentuated and abstracted and mulled over again and again, only to end in a thematic, straight-faced shrug.
Windows and TV screens are just a few of the persistent motifs that echo through Foozle’s work, which includes 2013’s anthemic Everything’s Casual, and now, Romantic Comedies, which is being released by local label Babe City Records. From “Letterman”, the exigent album opener, to “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”, a literal, acoustic shrug in song version, the album showcases a methodical evolution and self-awareness of the band’s own craft, warping typically worn-out sounds of guitar-based music into an accessible entryway that leads directly to the record’s rich personal narrative.
Foozle is made up of Jake Lazovick, Joanna Smith, and Ryan Witt, three friends who have been making music together since their early high school days in Montgomery County in the late aughts. Their personal history, forged over years of writing songs and navigating local DIY communities, has inflicted their songs with an unmistakable feeling that they’re making music as much for themselves and each other as they are for any external listener.
“This band is our friendship,” says Witt, the band’s drummer. When they rehearse or write or play a show, Witt says, “the energy of our friendship is always in the room.”
As Foozle has become a staple on house show bills and part of the D.C. DIY community over the past few years, it has constantly built upon the visceral energy that flows back and forth between its three members. Whether on stage or in a cramped living room, it forms an internal, unique language that has yielded a growing public interest in the band’s ideas and its chosen methods of communicating them.
On its new songs, those ideas hone in on a translucent and deliberately paced-out search for love and fulfillment. “The first one,” Lazovick says of Everything’s Casual, “was very urgent, and this one was kind of a departure from that.” The release of its second album has also acted as a means of self-reflection on how the band exists in a certain space and time—while Foozle still plays around D.C. frequently, its relationship with the local scene has evolved with its music.
“It used to feel way more exciting,” Lazovick, says of playing house shows and being active in the DIY community. “It used to feel like it was a huge deal, and now it’s just like, this is what we’re doing. You get over it and you have to start finding new things that excite you. So I feel like writing songs and writing albums—not just writing songs but making albums—excites me. Like writing them all at once, or thinking about them all together.”
And with its new record, there’s a clear through-line to the band’s previous work. The third track on the record, “TV Wrestling”, holds the same name as a track on Everything’s Casual. “The original joke was that all the songs on the second album would have the same titles in the same order as the first album,” Lazovick says, laughing. But like with almost everything on Romantic Comedies, the joke quickly became more complex. “This discussion of love and unrequited love has to do with distance and idealizing it,” Lazovick says. “Like, don’t confuse your ideals of what love is for the actual thing itself, and don’t confuse this TV wrestling version of love for what love actually may be—that struggle of trying to be with someone.”
One of the principal aspects of Foozle’s music has always been an insistence on physical setting and the objects that demarcate the moments and people that pass through them. Lazovick and Smith layer their writing with flashes of mundane items and stuff that, woven together, creates an accessible, common ground and space with potential listeners. Couches and futons and park benches, basements and kitchens and backyards and bedrooms—alone they feel scattered, but together, as recurring symbols in Foozle songs, they assume multitudes of meaning. “It’s self-referential,” Lazovick says of Romantic Comedies. “We’re being purposeful to try and tell a narrative, but also being vague enough that you can apply your own self… if I talk about a TV screen and I mention it a few times in a different context, you start to realize that these things… stand in for larger ideas.”
Foozle plays its record release show at Songbyrd Music Cafe tomorrow with Go Cozy and 100%. 7:30 p.m. $10-$12.