ALBUM REVIEW: Half Waif, Mythopoetics
Nandi Rose, better known as Half Waif, has been making electronic indie music since 2014. I was unaware of her career until this recent crop of singles for her new album, Mythopoetics, started popping up. I was particularly enthralled and intrigued by “Take Away The Ache”. To me, it really felt like an artist using minimalism to paint a full picture of unrequited love. “I know that I’m asking for more than you can give, but isn’t love just living like that?” she asks over a skittering, percussive instrumental not too dissimilar to Bjork’s “Hyperballad”. The choral vocals weaved in with the cold pianos and electronic dance elements really makes the song special in my opinion. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much praise for the rest of the album. I don’t hate this project, by any means, I just don’t particularly find the direction she goes in to be all that unique lyrically or production-wise.
I’ll continue by spotlighting some of my favorite tracks before getting more critical. Although I don’t particularly care for the meaning of this song as it pertains to the title, I think “Sourdough” is a deeply emotional ballad that showcases what Half Waif can do really well. The album’s title Mythopoetics is about her breaking down familial trauma, running away and starting her own story, making her own myths. On this track, she re-contextualizes love outside of family, referring to her newfound network as “the one’s I love”. I love the imagery, staring into the sun or giving away one’s blood to save the people you care about feels powerful, especially with talented vocalizations from Half Waif. She is driving away from her father’s home, cutting the family out while still roping it back in at the end, remembering him while still shying away. I find some of the lyrics, production details and background choral vocals on tracks like “Fortress”, “Sodium & Cigarettes” and particularly “Horse Racing” to be impressive and pleasant to my ears. The slow building danceability of these songs is not a quality of would’ve anticipated from an artpop album about trauma, but she does it well on a few of these tracks.
Now, to be critical. As gifted as a singer as I think Half Waif has the potential to be, I don’t find her to be all that impressive for the majority of Mythopoetics. On a skeletal track like “Fortress”, I would’ve really liked her to step it up vocally throughout, not just on the chorus. Even as it gets more intense, I don’t really love it. “Midnight Asks” and “The Apartment” are also two tracks that just don’t do it for me. The lyrics are detail oriented, sure, but the songwriting and production is very standard for this genre of music. Nothing on this album is offensively bad, or even “bad” at all, it’s just more average. How many artists can I listen to that blend choral vocals and lowkey electronic instrumentals until I start to get a bit of fatigue? After a while, a lot of these tracks start to share the same themes and feel a little bit repetitive. I think that this sound has a fair amount of potential, and considering she does this mostly on her own, there are definitely impressive spots on here. Still, there are only a few songs that I would come back to, the rest just feel like copies of what I already like.