If you find the sounds of 90s grunge music and ethereal female voices choking out lyrics to illustrate their existential crisis weirdly comforting and overwhelmingly cathartic, then you're going to love High Waisted's sophomore album, "Sick of Saying Sorry." The music of NYC-based rockers Jessica Louise Dye and Jono Bernstein, who make up High Waisted, has been described as a special blend of garage, surf, and psychedelic rock with indie dream pop influences. But regardless of however many genres of music they've combined, they manage to make it sound unique, and most importantly, easy. Lead singer and guitarist Dye, shares, "This is an unapologetic record about finding hope in a hopeless situation and the strength to get up when the world is screaming at you to stay down." While their first record explored the "carelessness of youth," she continues, "Our sophomore album embodies what happens when you leave the party at dawn to go home to your tiny apartment, alone."
The first couple of songs on the record perfectly capture the feeling of sitting in on a garage jam session. You feel close to the music as it's easily accessible and maintains that raw sensibility that's often lacking in modern polished and highly produced tracks. But it was the second song of the record "Modern Love" that made me wish I had this kind of album to listen to when I was in high school. It's the perfect mix of retro nostalgia and contemporary angst that feels like it embodies the very thing you can't describe. Similar to Dye's own description of the album, when you "leave the party at dawn to go home," this record feels like it exists in a liminal space -- in between destinations and varied with possibilities, all of which the band explores.
To me, "Cereal" is the most iconic song of the record. It illustrates the routine of making your morning breakfast while simultaneously having an existential crisis of remembering how you once envisioned your life. From dreams of being a pilot to marrying rich, the listener is brought back to the reality of eating cereal and looking around at what your life actually is. Who knew cereal itself could be trippy and psychedelic? And what's more is how grounded the lyrics are in matters that are both contemporary and old-fashioned -- "Some of my friends are at the protest / Some of my friends are scared at home / I never thought I'd feel unequal / I always hoped we'd conquer evil." Whether that reference settles into the Women's March in 2017 or the March on Washington in 1963, the lyrics strongly evoke a generation's fight to figure out what kind of a world they want to create.
"Sick of Saying Sorry" made me mourn being a concert-goer and experiencing this music with other people. It's the perfect soundtrack to sweaty strangers swaying side by side and exchanging a moment of higher connection. As the record comes to a close with its final song, "Fine," it returns to the beginning indie rock feel repeating the ever-colloquial phrase, "I'm fine." The question remains whether the individual is or is not in fact fine, but regardless of the answer, the band finishes strong and perhaps that is the greatest takeaway.
Written by: Misao McGregor
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