Debuts can be tough. But if someone is getting their PhD studies in musicology, it should be something more manageable. Press note for the debut album by Erin Anne (Fitzpatrick) goes with: “The result: razor-sharp, genre-defying indie pop that’s equal parts classic rock ‘n roll verve, electro-millennial queer ennui, and intimately personal storytelling.”
Besides that sometimes press notes are the contest of “How many adjectives you can put within one sentence”- the description of the album Tough Love seems very apt. Ten songs are kept within the indie pop style, with some really cool rock’n’roll edges.
The album starts innocently, with a somewhat shy intro, that (same as the outro) feels more like a filler, created to get you into/out of the right mood. Both songs do their job, but it is not the most memorable thing ever. We felt that the next track Bedroom track (Carrie) has some questionable synthesizer choices. After the intro, we thought that we might go a bit louder to contrast a subdued start, but even if we did, it felt off because of such peculiar pick for keys.
Thanks for the Bitter Winter and Tough Love, we believed that this album is finally serving us what we came here for. Those two tracks are catchy as hell, it’s the indie pop/indie rock at its finest, and it seemed that finally Erin Anne is showing us what she is capable of. Even the synth choice for Bitter Winter seemed to be more suitable than previously. On the other hand, Tough Love has definitely some major guitar hooks that made us want to listen to the rest of the album, anticipating even more goodness.
Unfortunately, we didn’t feel much connected with a few next tracks. Wrong Stuff felt like a weird indie pop experiment on synths choices (again), but this time throughout the whole song. Same we can say for “Seventeen“, an indie rock ballad with a noisy climax, track which was forgotten as soon as we have listened to it, but maybe because songs before and after it were much more prominent. Life Soup is very similar to Tough Love and Bitter Winter. It is clear as day that Erin Anne excels at this indie pop, women-in-front, summer jam type of thing.
It was though a big surprise that the track that got most of our attention is Plasticized. More subdued, to the point of sounding like a minimalistic indie folk-pop, when at times all instrumental goes practically off to give the artist a chance to voice with words her concerns and fears. Who would have thought that a simple “aaa” type of filler would have such emotional value? Everything with this track falls into place. Even the indie pop-ish synths in the background felt like they belonged here from the start.
One thing that needs to be mentioned (and we have decided to left it for the end) – the lyrics. Erin Anne is a fan of wellbeing, and with this predicament her lyrics are also self-conscious. Feels like her songs would be very apt for people experiencing any emotional abuse or toxic relationships. Or folks who are tired with “I shagged X number of people last night” radio-friendly poetry.
Songs on Tough Love mirror some significant problems that many of us had or know. Gaslighter – is pretty much self-explanatory. Same goes with eponymous Tough Love which covers a relationship with a narcissist: “Call it tough love, but I think you’re mean. I don’t think it’s funny how you talk to me. If I told your mother, I don’t think she’d be happy. Her little boy’s been naughty.” Or our favorite song from the album, Plasticized with: “And as the walls close in, I think about how hard I am to love. Not because I am unworthy. Because I point a gun at the people, who believe in me.”
This album will grow on you the more you will listen to it. From a musical point of view Tough Love is a stellar debut, and it would be a huge mistake to call yourself an indie music fan and not listen to this LP, just because a few tracks might lack easy-to-listen concepts. Also – music is subjective, so it’s not like you will love the same tracks as we do. Just listen. You will thank us later.