You may remember that back in February we featured a single from a then-forthcoming EP by LA’s runnner, led by Noah Weinman and Nate Lichtenberger, describing the track as “both smart and sad, probably the most affecting song you’ll hear about cooking eggs all year.” Well now that EP, titled fan on, has been released, and you’ll be pleased to hear that the album lives up to the promise.
fan on sees runnner perfect the aesthetic they introduced in debut Awash, smooth and emotive bedroom pop combined with DIY folk leanings to explore the bittersweet nostalgia imbued in the minutiae of the day-to-day. “[fan on] is made for & from little moments spent at home,” the band describe. “It’s background chatter during daily routines. It’s daydreaming at a party. It’s a fan on in the back of the room.”
Despite the intimate tone, Weinman and Lichtenberger get lots of help to round out runnner as a full band. Evan Rasch adds guitar, Dan Rasch synth, Rosie Tucker and Olivia Gerber provide vocals and Ben McPeek and Jordan Leicht bring sax. The result is not your average bedroom pop, veering between earnest folk and melodic pop in one cohesive package.
Opener ‘sublet’ is a subtle and typically emotionally wrought track that takes the relatively routine act of moving out of an apartment and makes it affecting, small actions like changing bedsheets and waiting for the bus transformed into moments charged with meaning. “Do I want this bad enough?” Weinman asks in a rare moment of naked self-reflection.
In our preview, we described ‘eggshell’ as “the breezily reflective folk pop of Pinegrove meets the kitchen-based everyday introspection of early Trace Mountains.” It sounds as infectious as it does introspective, a reminder that pop songs don’t need to be big polished soulless things, grounded as it is in the mundane—no matter how melancholic or indeed desperate such an existence can be.
i’m sleeping later every day
i let my time all go to waste
i’m cracking eggshells in the pan too much
i don’t know if i’m washing my hands enough
i’m keeping it close to the surface
but that’s not really making it hurt less
nothing to do but keep texting my therapist
so many half assed attempts to get over this
As its title suggests, ‘super lotto’ is a song about unsuccessful scratch cards, reverberating percussion and a manic sax section elevating it from gentle bedroom pop into something more complex, the maximal late-80s parts accentuating the sections of stripped-back guitar and vocals. “I can’t guess what’s on your mind,” Weinman sings on the more reserved title track, a song built on banjo and swelling synths. “Feel so dumb for even trying.” Though by the time the trumpet rings out at the outro, the track is gilded with a sense of golden nostalgia.
In many ways, closer ‘frame’ captures the essence of everything that’s come before, confronting the effects of twenty-first century ennui on things like productivity and relationships. The song is imbued with a restless sense of dissatisfaction, of sliding into the future with little if any purchase on the present. It’s the perfect illustration of fan on as a whole, somehow at once low key and blazingly expressive, distinctive and relatable.
Fan On is out now and you can get it from the runnner Bandcamp page.
Artwork by Claire McClusky, photo by Nell Sherman & Silken Weinberg