The Phi Dept. debuted this year with their first two singles, titled “EarthWorm Two,” on January 24. My initial reaction to the seemingly-shoegaze indie band, slowly gaining traction from their online presence, particular on TikTok, is that they hold a lot of potential. Their January release came with two singles, “Stink” and “It’s Okay Baby!”

“Stink” is the least interesting single here, a relatively monotonous backing track overplayed with repetitive lyrics. That may sound harsh, but I do quite enjoy the instrumental, the drum beat simple but ultimately fun. The volume changes almost fifty seconds in, which brings just enough newness to the song to keep it interesting, the secondary vocal part adding that necessary texture. The distorted guitar solo that follows is something, but I would’ve preferred more unique vocalization instead or a complete tempo shift in comparison to the relatively lukewarm guitar. The vocals here are simple, but if there’s one thing I consistently value in songs I review, it’s lyrics that evoke something from me. The lyrics seem to be discussing a breakup, not necessarily imminently new in the indie scene, but the distortion especially in the last minute of the song brings out enough emotion and value to keep me listening.

“It’s Okay Baby!” Is the start of the show. The Phi Dept. really belts out with greater emotion, the lack of distortion allowing a naturally soothing voice to shine through. The simple piano really helps bring this emotion, allowing a greater contrast towards the 1:30 mark when the distortion and guitar are implemented. The range of sound here is so much better than Stink, the repetitive lyrics can be ignored in the face of the contrasting vocals and guitar they belt out. This song is both slow and emotional and exciting and almost angry. The last half-a-minute really allows that emotion to sink back in, the final notes of the vocals descending as the vocalist comes to terms with the fact that almost all their accompaniment has left them. This song is by far the better track here and it’s the direction I hope to see The Phi Dept. heading in the future.

Photo Credits from: Birds Can Fly