One of the hardest things to learn to do as an artist is to be yourself. It may sound cliche but the more honest you are with who you are, the more your future audience will recognize and appreciate that. For 25 year old Sabrina Teitelbaum the journey to that honestly was one that took longer than she anticipated.
Growing up with a classic rock loving single father, Teitelbaum found that through music and the creation and performing of music was the best, and possibly, only way she felt she could make sense and process any instability she felt in her life. Armed with a fake ID that she used as a library card of sorts to explore, not rows and rows of books, but the nightly lineups of acts in New York City’s live music venues, searching out things that spoke to her. After Teitelbaum moved to Los Angeles to study music at USC, she found that the type of things she was drawn to and wrote was too raw and intense compared to her contemporaries. She dropped out after a couple years, got sober and started the slow steady process of writing for herself. With the encouragement of friends and peers, who identified what she was crafting was uniquely her, she ended up with the songs that mark her debut as Blondshell, which is out everywhere April 7th via Partisan Records (Idles, Cigarettes After Sex, Fontaines D.C.). The self titled album is full of self reflective wry humour, huge guitar riffs and melodies that seem to soar for days.
From the opening notes of “Veronica Mars” Teitelbaum establishes that this album is going to be something that will be tough to turn off. She sings, “Logan’s a dick/I’m learning that’s hot” referencing not only the hit television series but the way the media conditions young people in a way that may affect them for years to come. It’s intriguing and interesting and then the whole thing explodes into a bombastic guitar missive that is wonderfully cathartic. Many of the songs on the record follow along with the “quiet, loud, quiet” aesthetic established by 90s mainstays like Nirvana and before them the Pixies and it manages to continue on from the excitement of that era. “Sepsis” highlights just how good of a lyricist Teitelbaum is. She has this great ability to speak plainly but maximize emotional impact in the simplest ways. The song’s bridge features Teitelbaum slowly realizing that the emotions she’s feeling towards the man she has earlier described as a “dick” may not be the healthiest. She sings, “He wears a front facing cap/The sex is almost always bad/I don’t care ’cause I’m in love/I don’t know him well enough/What am I projecting/He’s gonna start infecting my life/It will hit all at once/Like sepsis/What if I’m down to let this kill me/Oh”. It’s that final “Oh” that elevates the entire endeavour with the realization that what’s being romanticized in her mind isn’t exactly romantic. Throughout the album Teitelbaum sings about relationships, love, addiction and how those things often intertwine. After you kick substances sometimes people just take their place and she describes the way she tries to not, but sometimes inevitably falls into the same traps again and again. “Dangerous” closes the album out with a whisper. A gently strummed and thoughtfully sung ballad that is an absolute heartbreaker. Teitelbaum sings, “Everytime I leave my house,” over the songs coda, “Anything can take me down”. It’s completely believable not only because we’ve all been there but because she makes you feel it.
Blondshell feels like the beginning of something much bigger for Teitelbaum. The world she presents here is so fully realized, so lived in and infinitely shattering. It also feels like a prelude of sorts to a career that will change and bloom in ways that she already has in her young life and will undoubtedly continue to do. The first step to self realization is a tough one but after that the learning curve falls and, if you’re open to it, the growth will only continue. While the entirety of Blondshell is a treat to listen to from front to back, it’s the realization of what’s to come that may be the most exciting thing.
Order Blondshell by Blondshell HERE
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