After shifting into singer-songwriter mode earlier this year for their fourth LP Warm Blanket, Lauren Denitzio is already back with the follow-up Worriers record Trust Your Gut, which announced itself as leaning back into the power-pop territory the project’s come to be known for when the album’s title track was revealed a few months back. Yet the other pre-album singles tell a different story: “Cloudy and 55” is a sparse piano ballad, while “Top 5” is a simmering anthem that looks to indie-pop artists like Florence + the Machine for inspiration when it comes to slow-building structures that never quite burst like they did when EDM briefly ruled the zeitgeist a decade ago.
Meanwhile the sound of Trust Your Gut remains rooted in the type of rousing pub-rock The Hold Steady have come to define, with that band’s keyboardist Franz Nicolay contributing keys across the record to further differentiate these songs from those penned by previous iterations of the band. It’s no wonder, then, that Denitzio looked to that group—as well as Florence and her indie-royalty peers such as The National, Sharon Van Etten, and Perfume Genius—for inspiration when crafting this record.
To give us a better sense of how these artists and others influenced Trust Your Gut, Denitzio shared a playlist made up of songs that helped shape the LP. “These are songs that I’ve been both listening to and learning a lot from in terms of production and arrangement,” they share. “I think the way these songwriters have found their voice both lyrically and sonically has had a big influence on the way I work and on the making of Trust Your Gut.”
Check it out and read through Denitzio’s commentary below—you can also pre-order the album before it drops tomorrow via Ernest Jenning Record Co. here.
Sharon Van Etten, “Porta”
There’s really something about a good synth-driven, walking-paced song with “I want to be myself” repeated throughout. This is a great stepping stone to her latest record, full of lush arrangements and convincing yourself to have confidence.
Florence + the Machine, “Free”
All I need is Florence and a drum machine, as this song proves. I love how it builds with keys and strings yet still feels so simple.
The National, “Sorrow”
I’m a huge sucker for the intricate and understated drum work with slow strings and almost monotone low vocals that rip your heart out in a lot of National songs. A masterclass in heartbreak.
Frightened Rabbit, “I Wish I Was Sober”
I could pick a lot of Frightened Rabbit songs, but I love the way this builds to such an epic arrangement while fighting self-loathing and regret. I think I’m really drawn to songs that find hope in the dark times somehow, the very bittersweet ballads.
Manchester Orchestra, “Bed Head”
I love their album A Black Mile to Surface as a very guitar-driven record, but “Bed Head” is a wonderful example of them finding their sound using some more digital arrangements with a lot of atmosphere happening, too. The music video for it is also really beautiful.
HAIM, “The Steps”
I can never get over how HAIM arrange songs, but this particular one—belting out the emotional disconnect between lovers—hits so hard. I love how raw their form of pop and rock can be.
White Reaper, “Might Be Right”
Drive around with the windows down to some dueling guitars that’s just too catchy. I love this band so much.
The Hold Steady, “Chips Ahoy!”
Franz [Nicolay] from The Hold Steady plays on Trust Your Gut, and that happened because I mentioned how I was trying to write piano parts like he does—like he literally does on this song. I play piano, but never really got the “rock” part down like he does, and I just love the kind of energy he gives to this song. And an organ solo bridge? Count me in.
MUNA feat. Phoebe Bridgers, “Silk Chiffon”
Torres, “Don't Go Putting Wishes in My Head”
Somewhat cynical queer love in a guitar rock song with synth bass. I can’t stop putting this on playlists and it’s been out for years. All hail Torres.
St. Vincent, “New York”
Any time I want to channel East Coast nostalgia I think of this song. Starting a song with simple piano and “New York isn’t New York without you” is just perfect.
Bleachers, “Don’t Take the Money”
Jack Antonoff is always the master of sing-along party songs in the most Springsteen of pop-rock ways. I love this one and the way he can make four-on-the-floor so interesting, heartfelt, and driving.
Charly Bliss, “Capacity”
I’ve been a fan of Charly Bliss since I heard the line “Am I the best, or just the first person to say yes?” and I think this song is maybe a second generation of that vibe, questioning how we look to others for validation and don’t question why we’re so busy in the service of someone else. Also, synths!
Perfume Genius, “Slip Away”
This is one of my favorite examples of a song kicking in cinematically—just a gorgeous climax to float away in.