All of the songs on Free Company, the first full-length by Bay Area songwriter Taylor Vick’s indie-pop outlet Boy Scouts, contain the word “you,” and almost all of them are in the past tense. Vick shuttles between regret and acceptance, her barbs complemented by optimism that people who’ve behaved harmfully still have room to grow. The music video to album opener “Get Well Soon,” showing Vick with party props in modest, mostly unpeopled settings, captures the album theme of being alone with your memories, and the often painful clarity of hindsight.
Free Company was recorded in a shipping container (by Stephen Steinbrink, who also plays on the album), but it sounds more polished and full than most of Vick’s wealth of homemade material: Guitar and keyboard melodies glint like satellites in a hazy night sky. Still, the record centers voice and rhythm guitar. Vick has a breathy, nimble lilt and tends to resolve gasps with sighs. She lingers on phrases, reluctant to let go, and most of the songs strike an ambling, unhurried gait. The music would be as affecting in the spare, acoustic context of earlier Boy Scouts demos.
Vick has self-released music as far back as 2010, more recently emerging as a distinct voice among a crop of loosely affiliated local musicians. The 2017 tape Hobby Limit appeared on Processional Cross, a tiny label run by Jeff Day of Crush; it would’ve fit on San Francisco label Father/Daughter, which works with the comparable Pllush. Free Company, though, is out on Epitaph Records’ eclectic ANTI- imprint (The Coup, Tom Waits), poising Boy Scouts to follow Jay Som as one of the few Bay Area indie-rock outfits to lately find a national audience.
Boy Scouts’ all-ages release show for Free Company, announced after supporting Jay Som at the Fillmore, is Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Starline Social Club with Dick Stusso and Abe Hollow. —Sam Lefebvre