Half Waif – Mythopoetics
Half Waif adds to the lockdown canon with an unflinching look at the psychological minefield we're all trying to navigate
Mythopoetics recognises the inevitability of the “pandemic record” tag and leans into it. Hard. The first line sets out the stall for the emotional exploration and topical ennui that are to follow: 'Have I forgotten how to be alone? / I blame you'.
Despite the increased studio tinkering, the arrangements here are mostly sparser than previous albums, foregrounding Nandi Rose Plunkett's undulating vocals with martial, almost industrial percussion (Take Away the Ache, Fortress) or cascading piano balladry (Sourdough, Sodium and Cigarettes). Swimmer and Midnight Asks are most reminiscent of typical synth-pop fare, but it's the skittery electro experimentation of Fortress (reminiscent of Sevdaliza's criminally underrated Shabrang) or the cut-up samples of Party's Over that really elevate the material.
The lyricism is another big draw here, with big, capital-F Feelings on full display. Themes of loneliness, confidence, and dealing with death/trauma abound and work best when simply presented; the inevitability of loss in Orange Blossoms or the conversational candour of Powder. Horse Racing runs a heavy-handed metaphor into the ground and it would take some sort of musical demigod to pull off a line about tasting 'loneliness in the crust of every loaf' on a song called Sourdough.
But overall there's a great deal to love on this album, whether you're hiding from the world or belting out some catharsis at your next (socially-distanced) garden party.
Listen to: Fortress, Swimmer, Party's Over