It’s hard not to be immensely charmed by the razor-sharp lyrical barbs of these Blondshell songs. ‘Sepsis’ opens with the laugh-out-laugh funny “I’m going back to him / I know my therapist pissed”, which is followed by the piercing chorus observation: “It should take a whole lot less to turn me off”. These lines encapsulate the intelligent, pathos-laden songwriting approach of the artist also known as Sabrina Teitelbaum. The 25-year-old’s self-titled debut is packed full of these unique and often-funny observations. ‘Joiner’ is a sharp portrait of a lost soul, someone who “buys drugs from guys in cars” and “watched way too much HBO growing up”. ‘Olympus’ is an honest vision of longing, envisioning an ex’s house that “still sounds like birds and smells like vodka”. These details are often startling in their lucidity.
Blondshell is on slightly less impressive footing with regards to its musicianship. Teitelbaum studied music theory at the University of Southern California, which is evident in the album’s clear confidence and harmonic acuity. However, the ’90s alt-rock approach never really grabs you by the collar like her lyrics. The slacker trudge of tracks like ‘Olympus’ and ‘Tarmac’ isa little dull, while a few too many tracks use the quiet verse-loud chorus approach of Nirvana or Hole but without leaving much of an impact in the process. ‘Sepsis’ has a memorable chorus, yet there are too few moments across the album where the musical craft impresses with its individuality. It’s a shame, and a frequent problem in guitar music right now, that such potent lyrical observations are paired with music that’s so beholden to the past.