Told Slant


Going By

2016

Genre: Pop

Style: Indie Pop, Lo-Fi

Label: Double Double Whammy

Review snippets taken from Rohan Samarth’s review over at Pitchfork

It’s the same small phrasebook of melodies, guitar parts, and lyrics erupting over and over into different configurations to create a complexly interconnected whole, but the album’s insularity also sounds cabin fever-esque—fitting, considering the city-born Walworth recorded it in self-professed Bon Iver fashion, sequestered to woodsy seclusion. The songs might be tender in their soft-hearted melancholy, but that strict adherence to spare parameters offers them a punk spirit. It’s a testament to Walworth’s compelling songcraft that despite all the repetition, the album doesn’t sound repetitive, but one wonders how many albums further that project can last.

The sparsity makes room to highlight Walworth’s distinctive trembling warble, which teeters precariously, constantly on the edge of breakdown—a performance of radical vulnerability that serves as the lynchpin of the music’s unique poignancy. “Tsunami” begins with a gravelly mumble of “I want to be a good sky on bad day” before choking a register higher into “and today was a bad day.” The weary lyrics bare an “old soul” demeanor—on their debut, Still Water, they sing about feeling “twice their age”— but the vocal fry and cracks through which they’re delivered are socially coded as gendered markers of adolescence.

Walworth’s voice revels in its own messy excess, repurposing vocal transgressions into fundamental elements of their singing style. It’s a critical model for queer listeners like myself: hearing a non-binary voice celebrate its own liminality helped me learn to honor my own trans feminine body. That conscious claiming of the queer body’s deviance (“still my body will be an illegible one,” Walworth chokes out on Low Hymnal) allows their voice to so powerfully transmit the extensive trauma that queer bodies magnetize.