Dawn Chorus #11: Suggested Friends – Turtle Taxi

Dawn Chorus #11: Suggested Friends – Turtle Taxi

It’s a Tuesday in October. It has dawned in gloriously sharp blue edged with soft yellow but it is the sort of day where regrets could still ambush you at any moment. Warding off the threat with Turtle Taxi, the second album from the brilliant Suggested Friends, which was released last week.  

Dawn Chorus header - a recommended album every week day

Artist: Suggested FriendsSuggested Friends Turtle Taxi album cover
Album: Turtle Taxi

Label: Fika Recordings 
Year of release: 2019
Genre: indiepop, alt-pop

‘And Jesus Christ / if I could be the friend I needed then / and take my own advice / instead of years of doubt / I comprehend’

The second album from Suggested Friends, Turtle Taxi, is full of poignancy and tenderness set to ’90s guitar as it sweeps in harmonies our cultural malaise.

The wit of 2017’s self-titled debut is still prevalent as personal politics, society’s ills, and trauma recovery are all covered. The surf rock and perfect pop melodies are here too, but with even more spun out ’80s guitar solos in the mix.

More than anything this is an album about being the grown up, learning about yourself and finding the courage to stand by the person you find, and coming to understand the right and the wrong kinds of love. Lyrically incisive, the wisdom has been hard-won from lived experiences while the music speaks of a band having fun in the creative pursuit. It’s an album showing hope’s circular economy of strength is where healing begins, and beyond it lies happiness; a radical state in which there is no smugness but peace.

Across the record there are melodic references to the best of power-pop with the Martha-like bouncing guitar of ‘Cygnets’, and of indie-rock with the Weezer surf jangle of ‘G.N.A’, and even the prosaic MOR of Fleetwood Mac is lifted in the subtle melody and cutting lyrics of ‘Bloom’.

Faith Taylor’s distinctive vocal, crystalline with a Country-twang, is at once filled with the emotion of living through the days sung about and at the same time tells the tales with the distance of an observer. There is weary disdain in lines like ‘I’m funding your retirement with my tiny monthly wage / and you say you had a house and car at my age’ (‘Pretty Soon Your Grave Will Be A Landfill’)but the fuzz of guitars, the squealing borderline-ridiculous solo reenergises and acts as the rally cry.

Album highlight ‘For Jokes’ brings in tropical-pop percussion and keys, an excitable impatience in the guitar under the verses, before the chorus kicks in with lifted voices, a choir of harmonies. It is the lyrical realisation, the promise made to self in the spite spat at others. The calmness of the melody, the mid-’00s indie vibe, which juxtaposes so well with the words as the song becomes pain and respite joined by the force of the clash.

There’s plenty of great power-pop around at the moment – and I’m all for more of it – but with Turtle Taxi Suggested Friends have honed their sound and in their honesty found even greater strength. You can hum these tunes and dance along and hear the joke but not what was suffered, as with the very best pop music, but it’s when you let yourself really feel as much as hear what’s going on that this album becomes really great within a busy genre.

Find Suggested Friends:

Suggested Friends play:

  • 9 Oct – Shacklewell Arms, London
  • 12 Oct – The Old Cold Store, Nottingham
  • 25 Oct – DSFL, London
  • 9 Nov – Exchange, Bristol
  • 10 Nov – The Moon, Cardiff
  • 11 Nov – The Library Pub, Oxford
  • 12 Nov – Cafe Totem, Sheffield
  • 13 Nov – Chunk, Leeds
  • 15 Nov – 1 in 12 Club, Bradford
  • 16 Nov – Brig Below, Edinburgh
  • 17 Nov – Glad Cafe, Glasgow.

Dawn Chorus is a week day feature sharing an album to listen to on your morning commute, the school run, or at other times with the intention of surfacing classics you might not have given time to yet, indulging in old favourites, and helping you discover the best of new releases. If you’d like to suggest an album for the feature, or contribute a guest write up on an album you think more people should hear, get in touch

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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