Late Night Friends’ debut album, What I Think I’m Not, is a diverse collection of heavily ’90s- influenced songs. The Los Angeles group is a rock band in the modern era, so naturally there are traces of a contemporary indie pop running through the album. Nonetheless, the band still will draw comparisons to some of the more talented and respected acts of the 1990s. What makes What I Think I’m Not different from other ’90s revivalists is that their source of inspiration spans the whole decade of grunge, instead of exhausting the already worn out aspects of the genres they call on.
What I Think I’m Not begins on its strongest note with “We Are Okay,” a hypnotizing shoegaze song more akin to Slowdive or Ride than My Bloody Valentine. Late Night Friends are able to bring aspects of “The scene that celebrates itself” to the present day, and it is a shame it’s not heard again on the album; at least to the extent of this track. There are shoegaze qualities heard in spurts throughout the album, and it is something the band does well. It’s like the way Yo La Tengo is able to retain their shoegaze qualities despite having moved away from it.
A lot of Late Night Friends’ fits comfortably into the indie pop scene. This is where the album could suffer for listeners because it is hard to set the group apart from others in the indie pop genre. What helps are the touches of feedback and subtly distorted guitars that, while not consistently accentuated, still shine through on the tracks. Even on the more straightforward songs, there are surprises. For example, “Technospace” echoes Built To Spill, but ends with a twangy, country inspired instrumental.
The album varies from track to track; “Cool” has an upbeat, summer feel; “All To Myself” is the grunge outlet with a “Smells Like Teen Spirit”-esque ending. It is refreshing to hear a debut as eclectic as What I Think I’m Not. An album filled with such variation from song to song is bound to have something for every listener. While there is a sonic thread that weaves throughout the album, it has the potential to leave some wanting more consistency. Nonetheless it is exciting to see what’s next from a band with such sonic diversity.