Annie Hoffman, Sonia Sturino and Adam Hand of Weakened Friends. Photo by Adam Parshall

You know how sometimes you have to listen to an album a few times to warm up to it and let it really sink in? That was not the case with the brand new release from rock trio Weakened Friends. “Quitter” grabbed me seven seconds into the opening track, “Bargain Bin,” and kept its claws in me all the way to the closer, “Point of Interest.”

“Quitter” is out on Friday on Don Giovanni Records, and the band is thrilled to be back on a Maine stage for the first time since 2019 when it headlines at Portland House of Music on Dec. 3.

“Getting to play this record and some old favorites for our hometown crowd is going to rule,” said singer and guitarist Sonia Sturino. The rest of the band is Sturino’s spouse Annie Hoffman, on bass and backing vocals, and drummer Adam Hand, who joined the band in the spring of 2019.

I’ve been hardcore fan of the band since I first saw and heard them five years ago and, well, they just keep getting better. In fact, I’ve been a fan of Sturino since I heard her old band The Box Tiger a few years before the formation of Weakened Friends. She spits fire, sometimes with a shrieking quiver, and has one of my favorite voices out there. I’m sitting here wondering how I can talk the band into letting me be a roadie on their 2022 European tour, and I’ll be sure to mention how good I am at conjuring up cups of coffee. Remember how in the 90s film “That Thing You Do” the Oneders had that one nerdy mega fan? I’m that person 100 percent. Even when interviewing them, I have to remind myself to calm down. This time around, I declared my adoration, then asked my questions via email, so that Sturino and Hoffman could both easily chime in.

Weakened Friends “Quitter” album cover. Designed by John Yates, Photo by Adam Hand

“Quitter” was produced by Hoffman, who engineered it along with Hand. Hoffman also handled the important task of mastering, which, in a nutshell, she said, is taking a collection of mixes and making them sound and feel like one cohesive unit. “Things that will be focused on and processed include overall volume against the zeitgeist of contemporary releases, and apparent loudness from song to song,” said Hoffman. She also mentioned the importance of pacing (amount of space) between songs. “Basically all of the things that a listener isn’t supposed to notice or even think about.”

I asked Sturino and Hoffman to name their favorite “Quitter” tracks. Sturino pointed to “25th” and “Everything is Better.” “They feel really good to play live and are different from anything we’ve ever really written before,” she said.

I gave them both a close listen and “25th” is indeed a banger as Sturino recalls a past birthday and seemingly speaks to her younger self: “I wish I could crawl inside you, fix the things you don’t like about you / I wish I could turn back time and spend another day with you.”

“Everything is Better” rambles down a slower but steady path as Sturino paints a bitter but melodic picture celebrating the absence of someone in her life. “Cause everything is better when you’re not around,” she declares with conviction, her guitar driving the point further home.

Among Hoffman’s standouts is “Bargain Bin,” despite its initial challenges.

“Bargain Bin had me ripping my hair out throughout the recording process, due to it’s odd shape and trajectory,” she said.

If, by odd, she means riveting, then count me in as declaring this a “Quitter” favorite. “I’m a bargain bin version of anything they’d want or they’d need,” sings Sturino during the chill intro that gives way to a fuller sound. The song (as do others on “Quitter”) drops a couple of F-bombs but, after thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that, if singing your truth in a realistic way, or for that matter writing an effective song, means using profanity, then go ahead. Like most of us, I venture into salty speak daily, and it’s silly to expect songwriters to avoid profanity just to make something safe for the radio. Glad we cleared that up.

I also have mad love for “Tunnel,”  for which the band released a video on Nov. 1. “We don’t even think about the things we say / Filling up on empty words ain’t helping us out,” sings Sturino.

Sturino told me that making “Quitter” was a labor of love, and that it’s the best thing the band has done.

“Having what felt like all the time in the world to make it while the music world was shut down was a weird blessing,” she said, while piling on praise for Hoffman’s engineering and production work. “It would not be as great as it is or we certainly would not be as happy with it if it wasn’t for her really digging in and pushing us to get out the best.”

Hoffman countered by admitting to be being pushy during the making of “Quitter” but with good reason. “I love the unhinged, on-the-brink-of-collapse energy of our back catalog. But this one needed to be different. There was a very apparent shift in Sonia’s writing, and it was time to grow up a bit.”

Weakened Friends has a pair of sold-out “Quitter” release shows this weekend in Boston, then heads to Vermont, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Boise, Idaho, playing some of these shows as the opening act for New Zealand rock band The Beths.

And let’s not forget their hometown show next month. They also have a several other U.S. dates planned but aren’t releasing details just yet. They are, however, very excited to head to Europe in April where they have nine shows in the United Kingdom, eight in Germany, two in Belgium and one each in France and the Netherlands. The last time Weakened Friends ventured overseas was in 2019 for some shows with Scottish rock band We Were Promised Jetpacks.

In Europe, the album will be out on a U.K. label called Big Scary Monsters, and the English band Snake Eyes will be opening for that entire stretch of dates. Now where did I put my passport?

Weakened Friends with Bait Bag and Billy Midol
8 p.m. Dec. 3. Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., $15 in advance, $18 day of show, all ages. portlandhouseofmusic.com


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