Artists // Washer

Improved Means To Deteriorated Ends came after a five year wait for new music from Washer, their 2023 full length re-introducing the band to a world increasingly difficult to live in. The record served as a balm, a relatable concept album that cataloged anxieties and mental turmoil in a way that resonated far beyond their core audience. It was a year that saw the band tour together with Speedy Ortiz, Paper Bee, and Rick Rude while also supporting Marnie Stern and Pile at their respective release shows. Washer have spent the last year growing, playing to crowds that hang on every word, at least when they’re not shouting along. The scrappy duo of Mike Quigley and Kieran McShane were built for these times, a band capable of translating insecurities and sociopolitical preposterousness into cathartic garage punk at its most captivating.

As the story goes, the original recording sessions for Improved Means, captured back in 2019 at New York City’s Big Coin Studio, were eventually scrapped post-pandemic, as the years in between lent themselves to new material and a shift in landscape. Washer eventually recorded the album at The Barn in Panton, VT in 2022, using some of the prior material, while leaving several songs behind, put aside for another time. With the band’s momentum in full swing, these songs have been revisited and reworked, completed with frequent collaborators Nick Dooley handling the mix and Amar Lal handling the master. These songs come together as Come Back As A Bug, a new two-song single that captures Washer with their most accessible recordings to date, two bent yet radio-friendly punk songs that highlight the range in the duo’s sound.

Thematically, the new pair of songs touch upon similar themes to Improved Means, with Quigley’s lyrics a rumination on depression and the push-pull of over analyzing vs. shutting down completely. Washer are offering the sort of “grit-your-teeth-and-carry-on-out-of-spite” kind of feeling.It’s not exactly sunny days and tropical drinks, but there’s plenty of charm to be found in the big hooks and the power-pop tinged melodies. “You’re Also A Jerk” is signature Washer, a song that takes a minimalist framework and converts it into an introspective anthem. Quigley describes the track’s lyrics as “the sort of caustic pull of self-hate and how it distorts attempts at analysis into a naval-gazing feedback loop.”

On the other hand, “Come Back As A Bug” is a little bit of a departure musically, a song that leans into the country twang the band began exploring on their last record. Speaking about it, Quigley was quick to point out, “I suppose it's a little trendy now, but we did write it in like 2018 or 2019”. Trend or not, it’s an immaculate song, one of the few Washer songs to clearly have a third distinctive part (lead guitar, in this case), making it an unlikely contender for a live staple, though the band have been known to have a guest join them when the occasion arises. Washer’s music has always had that innate ability of letting the listener know they’re not alone, we’re all struggling together. Like anxiety magic, Come Back As A Bug is a chance to get out of your own head and into someone else’s.