As if coming to prominence in the broken down streets of Baltimore wasn't hard enough, Romantic States have risen from bedroom heroes to indie kingpins of the local scene without a major label or steady touring. Without a consistent scene to draw influences from, Romantic States have stuck to obscure, outside sources for inspiration, particularly that of 19th century French composer Erik Satie. The band has also shown their strong adoration of animals too - adopting a West Indian manatee who goes by the name Margarito - naming Flipper as a vital influence, which blurs the line between whether or not the band drew influences from the noise-rock outfit Flipper (where Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic got his start as an artist), or the offbeat, 1964 T.V. series Flipper, where two children discover friendship in a Dolphin, and name him Flipper.

Following their 2015 self titled EP and their 2016 7" EP Take My Hand and Run, the quirky Baltimore duo have come forth with Corduroy in Italy, a timeless effort that could fit anywhere in between 90s weirdos like Pavement, 2000s revivalists the Thermals, or modern day freak rock, via Baltimore label Gentle Reminder. Whether or not the band was directly influenced by a squealing mammal named Flipper or the San Francisco quartet is still debatable, but after listening to Corduroy in Italy, one thing is for certain: Romantic States have grown up.

More expansive than their previous efforts, Romantic States maximize minimalism, taking their sound to new lengths, while still adhering to their humble espirit de corps. Embracing loose, neo-lonerism, frontman Jim Triplett writes lyrics of his own insignificance, adequately paired with Ilenia Madelaire's stripped down drum patterns. Although starting a two-piece outfit has its downsides, Triplett's loop-pedal fluency adds much needed depth to their music, whose layers blend into harmonious, off-kiltered songs that muddy the waters of noise-rock, indie pop, and electro freak folk.

Between their unique sense of minimalism and lonely lyrics, there's an undeniable sense of vulnerability on Corduroy in Italy, as Triplett frees the voices in his head; "Paper thin walls/ I can't go to sleep/ My lower back hurts/ Five days a week /The air outside never feels rights /My friends don't call, because they don't exist." In any other situation, this constant stream of consciousness might seem a bit typical, like the wallflower art-nerd from your high school who attempts to channel his inner frustrations. But, these freakish lyrics only add to the novelty of Romantic States, proving they're more than a campy, 90s revivalist group, and are in fact a staple of the East Coast indie scene.

Like the piling, infrequent drum patterns of 'Lunch Date', Romantic States' idiosyncratic aesthetic works undeniably in their favor, making for an off beat release, one that's as clearly matured as it is effusive. There lies great potential in Triplett's capricious idioms, marking their territory in mysterious waters, and deflecting them from landing in a solid state of comparisons. Much like the band's presence, some things are best kept a mystery, but what a compelling mystery Corduroy in Italy is.