Low Phase, a shaggy, amiable indie rock band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, describes themselves in their Twitter bio as “the indie band of your dreams.” It’s a bit of knowing hubris on their part, and it’s clearly intended at least partially in jest, but there’s a kernel of truth to it. In their nifty guitar work, immediate hooks, and honest, finely observed lyrics, they feel like some sort of platonic ideal of an earnest, 90s-esque indie rock band. In that way, they’re not too far off from other committed revivalists, like Bully or Hop Along – but as with both of those bands, their talent goes far deeper than just having good taste in music.

Caleb Waldvogel, the singer and lead songwriter of Low Phase, hasn’t directly said what the band’s debut single, “Sideline,” is about; still, it’s easy enough to gather through inference. Waldvogel addresses the song to a person who is very clearly Going Through It: they’re struggling with some sort of substance abuse problem, their relationships are becoming fraught, and they could end up going down a rather dark path. They seem to be ready to straighten themselves out and get their life back on track – but as Waldvogel’s lyrics point out, that’s only part of what this person needs to do.

“You said you’re gettin’ sober for my birthday,” Waldvogel sings in the first line. It’s a touching, considerate thing for someone to promise, but Waldvogel strikes a slightly skeptical tone, saying that it’s “not what [he] needed.” At first glance, it might seem like a selfish attitude, although he does concede that this person has a “lot on [their] plate.” But the listener can gather that this sort of thing may have happened before, and in any case their support system is being taxed to its breaking point. “Stretched out my limbs to meet all your demands,” Waldvogel admits, before launching into the song’s chorus, where he belts out that “it’s not easy” to watch this person from “the sideline.”

Addicts, of course, deserve nothing but care and love from their support system, and Waldvogel’s approach to this song is more tough-love than anything with genuine vitriol. But “Sideline” highlights the way compassion fatigue can exhaust the support group a person might need the most. It doesn’t feel cruel or petty, but it does feel honest: not everyone can be on call with nothing but soothing words, after all. It can be hard to watch, and it can be even harder to keep up. But with these well-written lyrics – not to mention the tasty guitar work – Low Phase make a case for it.