A record that wears its heart on its sleeve...

Our relationships with the online world today are perhaps more volatile than ever. Potential and possibility are at terms with anxiety and acrimony as one day to the next, we encounter stories that signify the successes and pitfalls of our online generation. With his new album ‘softcore mourn’, Pizzagirl – aka Liam Brown – explores the dichotomies of always-online culture, encapsulated within tales of relationships and breakups.

“In the past I’d written this happy-sounding, upbeat music, and then smuggled in depressing lyrics… now I’m going in for depressing music and lyrics,” shares Liam in a press release. And in comparison to his 2019 debut LP ‘first timer’, where outfits could be adorned to match Pizzagirl’s varying characteristics with each individual track, Liam’s statement stands true as this record – though not always depressing – requires no costume changes; it is best experienced as a whole.

That is until you pass its second track ‘Car Freshener Aftershave’, which embodies a glitchy, Gary Numan esque aura with synths and distorted vocals at the forefront, contrasting sonically with the remainder of the album. Lyrically however, it remains cohesive: “California motel vomit, it’s like a Jackson Pollock” and “I never email enough, but can you pay my rent, again?” are just some of the lines that capture slices of the tongue-in-cheek humour peppered throughout ‘softcore mourn’.

Melodies are the album’s stand-out feature. In tracks like ‘Your Flat Earth Brother (In the Blades of the Grass)’ and ‘Moreno’, vocal melodies glisten with a poppy gleam that’s reminiscent of Blink-182. Elsewhere, on ‘Bullet Train’ essences of MGMT are felt among arcing synth lines that nod to the ‘Oracular Spectacular’ era. Indeed, the Beatzzeria (Liam’s nickname for his home studio) showcases some of its most authentic delicacies to date in this album. Banjos, beats, tambourines and timbres are all experimented with throughout: the first side of the album coated with an 80s infused bodywork before reaching a more Elliot Smith style, dejection laden interior where strings and pensiveness takes centre stage.

Even though the record brims with a can’t-get-over-this obsessiveness that’s reified by the immediacy of online culture, ‘softcore mourn’ doesn’t leave a lingering sense of sadness upon its departure. A shoulder to cry on would perhaps be a more accurate description; it vents its frustrations without having a grand underlying message of resolution attached to it – it feels genuine. And sometimes, genuine is all that matters.

7/10

Words: Jamie Wilde

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