Had Ingrid Michaelson stopped singing sad songs and instead danced on the beach, the result would be “Song for Her,” the title track of Riva Saputo’s Headspace. The debut EP of the Berklee band (founded by Heather Rivas and Toni Saputo) is a sonic landscape with oft-dueling beats. The opening piano chords are rhythmically intriguing enough to stand on their own, but the warm crackle of Toni Saputo’s vocals adds a layer of familiarity.

On “Hook, Line, Sinker,” lyrics like “what made his fist feel like kisses babe” recall Florence and the Machine’s “Kiss with a Fist.” However, while the British band has stated their song isn’t about a destructive relationship, “Hook, Line, Sinker” seems to tackle just that. The character is stuck in a cycle they can’t get out of, a feeling mirrored in the repetitive nature of the chorus. As the bass line dances with the vocals, Saputo croaks: “why you, why you, why you?”

Feel-good, soulful “Best Years of My Life” follows, a brief upswing in mood that highlights the band’s jazz and soul influences. While the song feels disappointingly short,  the brevity is perhaps a nod to the title, a commentary on the fact that the best years of our lives won’t last forever.

The hiccup on the EP is “Dracula,” with its gloomy minor piano key and strange lyrics. The songwriting suffers from passive voice (“my neck is what he likes to eat for dinner”) and the song is crippled by a trite metaphor. Vampire and Dracula metaphors are overused in pop culture, and have already found a home in music: think Dr. Dog (“Vampire”) or A Great Big Pile of Leaves (“Vampires In Love”) or even Peter’s Dracula song from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Headspace struggles to recover after “Dracula,” and fades out with the meandering of “I Don’t Care.” As hazy vocals repeat the same eight words, cymbal flourishes swirl around us and the drumming attempts to keep our focus. Nevertheless in the span of just five songs, with Headspace, Riva Saputo flex their rhythmical prowess and invite us to both dance and reflect.

Album Review: Headspace by Riva Saputo
  • Distinct vocals
  • Intriguing rhythems
  • Lyrics and metaphors sometimes lacking
  • "Best Years of My Life” is cut short
7.2Overall Score

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