Quivers: Golden Doubt LP
Released 28th May 2021
Melbourne-via-Tasmanian four-piece Quivers first released their 2018 debut We’ll Go Riding on the Hearses as hand-made cassettes. The album dealt with singer Sam Nicholson’s loss of his brother in a freediving accident, and “trying to not think about that, and often coming back to ghosts, benders, water, and pissing in the snow.” When demand for the album grew, it received a vinyl release and led Quivers to tour the US, film a KEXP session, and be selected by NPR Music for both the Austin 100 SXSW preview and as a ’Slingshot’ artist to watch. Their life-damaged but hopeful jangle pop has only sharpened since then, and while 2021 follow-up Golden Doubt conjures up REM or The Clean there is a lyrical directness that sets this record apart as always its own.
Golden Doubt is carried by shimmering guitars and the harmonizing vocals of members Holly Thomas and Bella Quinlan. Elevated by the production of Matthew Redlich (Holy Holy, Husky, Ainslie Wills), the record explores what comes after grief, and how we throw ourselves back into love. As Nicholson explains, the album tries to bottle “the rush of feelings and fears when you give in to falling for someone. It’s also an album in love with other albums, and the other bands around us.” Before each take at Woodstock and The Aviary studios in Melbourne, Australia, the band would imagine a scene together (a waterhole for “Laughing Waters”, an overgrown carpark for “Videostores”) and then dive in to capture live group takes.
Quivers need to get words on the page and sounds out to keep moving on. Both Sam and Holly lost their brothers in the same year, and through that shared vulnerability they all have together that runs deep. Golden Doubt is also a love letter to playing music as a band and processing it all together rather than just carrying it as a weight. The cancellation of a 21-date US tour they had slated for 2020 has left them undeterred; Quivers plans to continue being a band and get back out into the world as soon as it’s possible.
Quivers stretched out in making Golden Doubt once they nailed foundational band recordings, adding walls of violins (“Hold You Back”), a nine-person choir to “Chinese Medicine”, and a broken Farfisa organ anywhere it would fit. On the striking “Nostalgia Will Kill You,” Michael Panton's guitar channels Santo & Johnny; with a fresh take on 50s group vocals, Sam, Bella, and Holly sing in wrenching stop-and-starts, “you can’t go back everywhere you want to go / nostalgia will kill you.”
For Quivers, having their favorite records in mind is a motivating force. Chasing the heights of bittersweet earworms suits them on glistening guitar pop like “When It Breaks” and the slower 1990s’ guitar glow of “Videostores.” Between albums they covered R.E.M.’s Out of Time in full for Turntable Kitchen’s vinyl series, which reminded them: “You can’t forget guitars. Two guitars, a bass, drums and whatever voices are about will always be a good sound to get tangled up in.”
Of the title, Sam says: “Golden, because musically we daydream with the guitars of Teenage Fanclub and The Cure, the singing of The Roches’ sisters, the basslines of Another Sunny Day, and the drums of Lower Dens or Car Seat Headrest. Golden Doubt, because hitting your thirties after losing people knocks you off balance for a while, but no longer caring what the world thinks is always a breakthrough feeling.” Quivers may have created the antidote to existential dread by embedding it in songs that feel so present and alive, we might not find firm ground, but there’s bliss in swinging from hook to hook as they sing “we stayed out ‘til there was glitter in our lungs.” Sooner or later you wake up and the doubt has long gone.
A1 Gutters of Love
A2 When It Breaks
A3 Hold You Back
A4 Nostalgia Will Kill You
A5 Chinese Medicine
B1 You're Not Always On My Mind
B4 Laughing Waters
B5 Golden Doubt