By Sydney Crawford
17 Oct, 2019
The Greeting Committee, composed of Addie Sartino (lead vocals), Brandon Yangmi (guitar), Pierce Turcotte (bass), and Austin Fraser (drums), returned to their Kansas City roots to record and produce their band’s latest EP, I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry. Produced by Jake Luppen of Hippo Campus and Caleb Hinz of Normal Parents and The Happy Children, this EP takes a different direction from The Greeting Committee’s latest and debut album, This Is It. This Is It is a story of growing up and entering the world, corresponding to the band’s growth and the members’ (all in their early twenties) end of adolescence. But beyond the bounds of youth and coming-of-age tales, This Is It poses another question: what happens after you grow up (captured by the first track “Is This It?”). Offering a possible answer to that question, I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry follows in a darker, more mature style.
A departure from The Greeting Committee’s usual upbeat basement indie-rock sound, I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry strips back some of the instrumentation and backing vocals featured on This Is It, noticeably the horns and strings. The first track, “Cry Baby,” opens with a chaotic chorus of drums and yells, laying the underlying beat of the song. Above the mayhem, Addie Sartino’s vocals drift low and emotional throughout, accompanied by a soft piano melody. The clear, monotone, and sometimes echoey vocals complement the honest and mournful lyrics about mental numbness and longing for any strong emotion. This departure from Sartino’s usually bright and energized vocals reflects the EP’s recurring theme of stripped back vocals and instrumentation to provide an honest, emotional feeling.
The second track, “Simply Surviving,” feels more like their past works; it opens with a strong guitar line and features percussive drums, more in the vein of indie-rock than “Cry Baby.” However, Sartino’s lower vocals and the crisp production give a more mature vibe of the band, along with self-reflecting lyrics: “I’ve been shaking, waiting for the rest of my life / What’s left for me than simply surviving?” The song ends in a frantic flurry of drums and reverb, invoking a desperate, yearning feeling and reflecting the chaos of “Cry Baby.” “What If Tomorrow Never Comes?” similarly to “Simply Surviving”, reflects strongly on the band’s past work — specifically the bridge’s acoustic breakdown section, which is reminiscent of the band’s earliest hit “Hands Down” on their first EP, It’s Not All That Bad. However, the darker sentiment of the EP creeps in through the almost waltzing slower pace and forlorn lyrics: “I can’t stand myself / ‘Cause I can’t stand to be alone.”
The closing track, “Call In The Morning,” is the hardest hitting song on the EP, dealing with themes of suicide and losing loved ones. Sweet but haunting like a lullaby, soft guitar and piano accompany Sartino’s lovely and moving voice, stripped back in an honest display of emotion and relating an incredibly personal moment. Through a slow swell of percussion and the return of Turcotte’s saxophone, the bridge explodes in a chill-invoking spoken verse. Almost confessionally, Sartino repeats the litany of “Call the police / Call the police” and desperately, frantically cries out about the moment of finding a loved one suicidal. The cutting lyrics and vulnerability of Sartino’s voice sets “Call In The Morning,” and all of I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry as more transparent and mature than The Greeting Committee’s past work.
If This Is It is asking about what comes after exciting, intense youth, I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry offers an honest answer, exploring the full range of emotions that encompass growing up, loss, passion, fear, love, and life. Through stripped back instrumentation, clean production, and remarkably vulnerable lyrics, The Greeting Committee signals a shift into new territory and growth as a band. I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry is an EP that is not only a personal outpouring of emotion from the band, but can help listeners feel their own range of emotions as well. Anticipating concern over the shift from her usual dancy, upbeat music, Sartino tweeted before the release, “before the ep comes out tonight i just wanna say yes i am okay so please don’t ask. lol. it’s good to feel everything.” And The Greeting Committee inevitably will help people keep feeling everything in their future music, following in the direction set by this EP.