words: Luke Janke
Chicagoan quintet Varsity's single "A Friend Names Paul," off their April LP Parallel Person, hits your ears with the twangy guitar effect that's all too common in contemporary indie rock. Only this time the catchy progression and pristine mixing makes you stop and realize: "oh wait... this is different."
Flip-flopping time signatures coupled with Stephanie Smith's earnest, yet present voice traverses the hard-to-navigate anxieties of a friendship you're unsure you can trust: "Isn’t it enough to be laughing/ On my dime/ And you never have to question/If my love is on the line," and later on in the bridge Smith questions: "Would you die for me anytime?/ Okay, just wondering."
Jingle jangle percussion adds a layer of summertime bop as the band weaves in and out of soaring choruses like a pool float in a lazy river. Staccato guitar hooks meld into what is effectively an image of sunglasses resting on the edge of a pool. It seems like summer swimming analogies were on the band's mind as well, as the music video for "A Friend Named Paul," makes prominent use of an adult water aerobics class.
The video, conceptualized by directors Mark Pallman and Amanda Speva, portrays a young woman enraptured by the young instructor's rippling muscles while cutting to the band performing around a diving board.
"A Friend Named Paul" is lively toe-tapper perfect for mid afternoon trips to the grocery store and late evenings sipping a cool drink poolside with your closest friends.