Not a lot of indie rockers have a side gig as an ortho/neuro nurse, but there’s nothing typical about Lindsey Radice. Recording and performing as Pynkie, the New Jersey native brings her own distinct style, work ethic, and personality to her nursing and music career alike. Radice’s new album #37 is a breezy pleasure that runs deceptively deep, a rallying cry of joy and positivity.

Lindsey Radice first came to the guitar at age eleven, sticking mostly to Led Zeppelin and AC/DC covers. But at eighteen, she began to write her own songs. They were mostly joke tunes, odes to her shower curtains, for example, with their little duck print pattern. As she began to record her songs, Radice discovered a deeper ambition, the need to tell her own story, though she never lost track of her playful side.

“What I love most about music is writing and recording,” says Radice. “It’s fun and there’s no rules about what you can write about or how to play it. You can do whatever the hell you want. And you might even change the game accidentally!”

Despite having no label, press, or publicity team, Radice’s first, self-produced album neoteny garnered her a substantial cult following. Her own “lofi” remix of neoteny standout “Dew” was streamed over 1.5 million times. The album caught the ear of Gorilla vs. Bear mastermind, Chris Cantalini, who featured it as one of the best of 2018. Her brand-new follow-up, #37, promises a continuation of that vibe, but also a significant step forward.

“I’ve gotten opportunities to work in ‘real’ recording studios with ‘real equipment,’” says Radice. “But, this is the first time I’ve had my stuff mixed and mastered by somebody else. It’s definitely a step up.”

Radice decamped on her days off to a small studio in Brooklyn’s Rockaway Beach with bandmates John Messina and Josh Bartsch rounding out the lineup. They would meet whenever Radice’s nursing schedule would allow for it to experiment and find the perfect sound.

“I really loved the place where I was recording, Rockaway Beach Hut,” says Radice. “It’s a fun, funky-looking studio with lots of cool and funny stuff sprinkled around it. Chris had this weird baby doll head that’s also a light sensitive oscillator. I think that might’ve made it on the record somewhere, haha.”

Though the vibes were good, and lots of songs got recorded, #37 took almost a year to complete, including a lengthy recording break in the middle of the process. “I took some time away because I felt like I couldn’t get it sounding the way I wanted,” says Radice. “And then the pandemic happened, which made being a nurse pretty hard for a bit. But we found a way to make the record work, and somehow everything got done in the last couple months.”

The result is an absolute joy of a record, a tour through Radice’s own sunlit world. It’s a collage of daily life moments, delivered with a precision, skill, and an ear for hooks that shows the deep level of craft behind even the easiest-sounding moments. The songs are driven by Radice’s singular voice, with a mixture of wit, warmth, and candor that makes you feel like she’s already your best friend.

“Funny Boy” is a lilting sunbeam of a song, the perfect antidote to our canceled summer. The lyrics describe the initial swoon of falling in love and the idealization that one feels for a new partner. “You are my up and down/I wanna be around/for everything you do/I’m never bored of you.” But there’s a hint of sadness to the song as well, a nod to the darker side of a crush, as Radice sing, “Good times will pass me by/ But you’ll always be my funny boy.”

“Sunday Driving” is an ode to one of Radice’s favorite pastimes, driving around aimlessly. “There’s just such a joy and freedom to being in a car,” she says, “with no destination, no purpose. Just listening to music and taking a break from the world. I tried to capture that sullen, dreamy feeling.”

Album closer “Vacation” is a true highlight, an upbeat song about breaking free from a former relationship as well as the old ways of thinking that went along with it. Featuring one of Radice’s catchiest choruses, the cheerful nature of the song belies a darker sentiment, as Radice sings, “And I’m telling myself on this new vacation/ that the minute I feel you slipping away/ I’ll only give you the green light.” It’s a song about liberation and freedom from past things that bring you down.

These heavier feelings are a part of the heart of #37. The name itself is a reference to Radice’s mother’s first husband, who died early into their marriage, leaving two children behind (Radice’s older sisters). #37 was his high school football number, and it has remained significant in her own life. “My mom and sisters feel that 37 is very symbolic of him,” she says. “They see it everywhere and usually at very strangely coincidental moments. They feel like it’s him looking down and protecting them. Then I started seeing it all the time too, and it just turned into this magical/meaningful number in my mind, especially during the time I was making this album.”

It’s the twinge of sadness at the heart of this music that gives its optimistic power. Though the songs do always sound cheerful, they don’t discount the importance of other, complicated feelings as well. This lets Radice’s joy be a choice, an act of strength during difficult times. Pynkie’s music feels defiantly happy, a kind of bravery in the face of a world that always wants to bring you down. And of course, you’re more than invited to sing along.

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