Mythopoetics, practically understood, is a mechanism of self-understanding. For Nandi Rose’s fifth solo record as Half Waif, outside her contributions to alt-country rockers Pinegrove, this title is extremely fitting. The record, which she revealed she’s tried to make over the last decade, contains recollections of her childhood, explorations in her pre-emptive fear of loss, and anxieties surrounding self-esteem: “Somebody make me think I might be worth something.”
Since Half Waif’s 2014 debut Kotekan, she has adopted a more experimental approach with each release, tentatively layering more colours and textures to her electronically-led arrangements. Mythopoetics, whilst continuing to demonstrate artistic growth, is a record at odds with the excesses of futuristic production and sparsely presented nostalgia. While the enveloping experimental beats and glitchy motifs of ‘Take Away the Ache’ or ‘Party’s Over’ are certainly captivating, it’s the LP’s leaner compositions which reverberate in the psyche longest. Opener ‘Fabric’, for example, constantly entices the listener to deviate from the tracklist. “Have I forgotten how to be alone? I blame you,” Rose intones atop a heartfelt piano accompaniment. Within the context of the record, this song is singular in its minimalism, although pop ballad ‘Sourdough’ and album closer ‘Powder’ also do well to provide breathing room.
For the most part, this record presents challenging, universal themes amplified by an exuberant portfolio of dense electro-pop bangers. While Rose’s lyricism is informed by defining chapters in her life, the opulent soundscapes take a page from the songbooks of numerous artists from Perfume Genius to Charli XCX and St Vincent to Mitski. The overall dynamism of Mythopoetics makes for a rewarding exercise in self-reflection.
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