Though many have tried to position singer/songwriter Meg Myers as the latest in the line of angsty female singers that includes the likes of Fiona Apple, the alarming level of bitterness and near hostility found in the lyrics of theMake a Shadow EP, the second release from the ferocious former Jehovah’s Witness, almost puts her in a different league entirely. Digging into a song like album opener and lead single “Desire” shows that Myers may be closer in spirit to Liz Phair in her potty-mouthed early days as she runs through some very suggestive lyrics while offering up a main lyric that, at one point, flat-out offers a “fuck” before asking a lover “how do you want me” in an increasingly screamy voice. Similarly to Myers’ 2012 EP Daughter in the Choir, Make a Shadow at times overflows with not-so-passive aggression. Though a few songs here show a softer side of Myers, more often than not she seems almost overwhelmed by rage and frustration, making this uncomfortably intimate album a somewhat unsettling thing to listen to.
Myers’ tendency to utilize gloomy, goth rock instrumentation continues on Shadow even if this record has a more rich general sound than her previous release. “Desire” starts with a slithery bass before pounding and moody harpsichord-like piano joins in during the first repetition of the crashing chorus section. Myers’ almost ghostly voice is very exposed during the verse, only adding to the sense of tension already created by the lyrics. Between orgastic moaning and declarations that she’s “gonna kill” the person the song is directed towards, Myers has time to crank out a shrieking, heavy-duty guitar solo as the song begins to wind down. All in all, it’s a powerful opening track that’s all but guaranteed to get a listener’s attention. Follow-up track “Go” may not have pack the gut-punch of the opener, but it eventually becomes plenty intense in its own right. The track starts off portraying a mood of near-indifference before it goes into assault mode during a chorus packing noisy, grunge rock guitar and hammering drums. Melodic singing featured in the verse eventually gives way to straight-up screaming by the cacophonous finale of the piece. If any song from this album were to wind up on the radio, this would probably be the likely candidate.
The album’s title track instantly seems more consistent compared to the previous two, with a sad but calming feel to it as Myers reminisces about and dreams of childhood innocence. It’s this song that to me is most reminiscent of the music of S, former Carissa’s Wierd guitarist/singer Jenn Ghetto’s solo project, since both Myers and Ghetto have a way of spinning emotionally raw tales of love and loss. “Heart Heart Head” sounds quite bleak, as Myers describes her vulnerability and uncertainly about moving on after the collapse of a relationship. Again, this emotionally devastating song could be read in some interesting ways: the main verse includes the lyrics “How do I fake it with another man? / How do I love him on the weekend? / How do I listen to another man? / How do I get off on the weekend?,” and the final section of the track sees the vocals disintegrate into animalistic screeching. Closing track “The Morning After” is by far the most “pleasant” sounding track here, though there’s an inner melancholy to this song about being caught up in an uncomfortable romance. Pushed along by a simple guitar strum and much gentler vocals, it comes across as a sort of twisted fairy tale through the use of droning electronic tones and twinkling bells. As opposed to providing a definitive conclusion, this coda instead suggests that, after spilling her guts for five tracks worth of music, Myers has come to an uneasy truce.
Make a Shadow often seems overly confrontational and packs a few potentially cringe-inducing moments for the listener unprepared for Meg Myers’ honest, uncompromising lyrics. As difficult as it may be for some listeners though, this cathartic album is memorable from start to finish and undoubtedly would be appreciated by those who don’t mind a walk on the dark side. In terms of the music and lyrics, this album is very strong as it walks the line between guitar-driven rock and electronica, taking the listener on an emotional roller coaster ride as it plays out. Not everyone would want to listen to music that is this in-your-face and acerbic, a fact which may explain why Myers, even after two excellent EPs, isn’t more widely known, but I’d have no problem calling Make a Shadow one of the better releases of the year.
8.5 / 10
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