Merge – 14th July
Waxahatchee’s new album starts with a storm. The album’s opener ‘Never Been Wrong’ has a vacillating guitar that comes in with a squall, immediately detaching Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield from the hushed, bedroom recordings of her previous efforts. Though no longer with the album’s subject in her life, by writing about them, she is still playing their “own game. It’s embarrassing”, she admits. But with this album she will win.
It seems like a deliberate nod to The Breeders and their 90’s epoch, a time when rock music was a radical way to mirthfully complain about one’s boyfriend. Waxahatchee’s take is pastiche to the point of nostalgia; to the point where you can feel the strain. Out In The Storm is an out-of-body experience – told both retrospectively and introspectively.
Crutchfield doesn’t hide behind honourable proverbs, but instead translates a tantrum into lucidity. On this album, she lives through others’ perception of her. It’s at its most warped on the more stentorian tracks like ‘Brass Beam’, where she remembers being lost in her playmate’s “rendition of reality”, whereas ‘Sparks Fly’ is the album’s happiest moment, as she sings over a triumphant gust of guitar and synth: “I see myself through my sister’s eyes.”
How is it that someone with so much clarity, with such lacerating observation, can be so dissociated from herself? Out In The Storm is a work of great insight, familiarity, and bravado. Expect to see it on any reasonable end-of-year list.