slo-anne’s debut LP conjures memories of childhood and the fear of being stuck in a small town forever.

Channeling the chord progressions of Bleach-era Krist Novoselic and the gritty early vocals of Best Coast, slo-anne launches their album Squints, packed with eight tracks that belong in an early 1990s underground rock show. Brother and sister duo Cecily and Andy take us back in time to the golden days of grunge with clever lyricism and powerful guitar work while exploring the loss of childhood dreams.

The album opens on “Juicebox,” with Cecily describing the ruins in which a previous relationship has left her: “ I’m like an empty juice box / Hollow on the inside got a hole through the middle / Dove in real deep when I let you in.” The sly comparison to an empty juice box packs a punch despite its simplicity, symbolizing the childlike, rose-tinted glasses we look through when thinking of relationships in which we ignore the warning signs. Building on the ruins of the relationship, Cecily describes when the connection between two people has lost its luster, they’re left feeling empty and alone: “You sucked me dry / Now I’m hanging on the line.” The song’s raw and energetic chord progressions flourish throughout the entire album, serving as a perfectly angry juxtaposition for its themes of loss of childhood aspirations and innocence of how we see love.

These themes continue in the tracks “Cog” and “Send it Back.” Squints is refreshingly self-aware; it chronicles a young, struggling artist afraid of being a “deadbeat,” of putting her childhood dreams on the back burner due to lack of recognition and the restrictions of being in a small town. She faces her frustrations in a world where one’s popularity is judged by “slick screens.” She feels unappreciated, despite working hard at her passion. This is evident in “Cog,” where she finds that maybe becoming an artist is not as easy as she thought. She wants her partner to recognize her talent and aspirations, to encourage her, and to “look at [her], not the TV.” In the track “Send It Back,” she further laments her frustrations; she is afraid of becoming that deadbeat mentioned in “Cog”: “Tears dry in salty white lines / Curse New England and my umbilical ties.” She is upset, afraid and frustrated (and perhaps, even self-doubting herself) at the thought of staying in a small New England town forever. She is afraid of not getting her art out there beyond the borders of her “umbilical ties”; she wants to leave and find a place where she is appreciated and where she may showcase her talent a new audience. It’s the fear of never accomplishing the dreams we have as children, the fear of them fading away.

While slo-anne’s freshman album contains solid hooks and a vehement tone, they are still figuring out their sound. With some strengthening of the vocals and a clearer sound production, they will mature with time. Despite this, Squints’ songs are truthful, poignant, and brimming with refreshing lyrics that dive deep into the psyche of an exasperated dreamer with stories to tell.

 

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