Words by William Wayland
The next time you find yourself in the middle of a global pandemic, sheltering in a tiny apartment — missing friends, family, and your former life — try spinning House Plants to feel a little more grounded.
House Plants is the eponymous title of Kyle Stringer’s solo effort and self-released debut album. Stringer is usually out of the spotlight, laying down bass lines for Oakland’s Milk for the Angry or, before that, Kansas band Narkalark. Here he steps to the front of the stage (figuratively speaking) with echoes of Alex G, Flaming Lips, Toro Y Moi, and Tame Impala.
Though it was five years in the making, House Plants feels like it was made for this moment. In compact lyrics and melodies, Stringer sings about going to the park and feeling sentimental. He sings about the death of a loved one but feeling conflicted. It’s an album about ordinary human emotions that feel simple and real, especially now.
So I had to ask, why House Plants? Stringer told me that it was because this was an album that grew from song clippings that he played at home alone to plants “in bedrooms from the Midwest to the West Coast.”
But also because one of the ordinary human emotions that this album is about is love, both in its subject matter and in the organic way this record grew from a solo project to include close friends. Some who accompanied him on the songs, and some who helped to produce the album and make it real.
There’s another clue in the song “Tonight,” with lyrics about missing a girlfriend who’s “4,000 miles away from here.” It ends with a famous Yoko Ono and John Lennon interview where Lennon says, “You’ve got to work on it. It is a precious gift, and it’s a plant, and you’ve got to look after it and water it. You can’t just sit on your backside and think, ‘Oh, well, we’re in love, so that’s alright.’”
He could have been talking about House Plants.
William Wayland loves to photograph and write about anyone trying to pay the rent with their art. Known for his unique perspectives, William can identify every music venue in the Bay Area by smell alone.