i don’t know who needs to hear this…
In an album that takes minimalism to its extreme, Tomberlin’s down-to-earth writing is an antidote to modern worries. It speaks to how we’re all doing the best we can, and has the ability to heal listeners, as well as Tomberlin herself.
Opener “easy” operates with a shaker beat and sparse piano notes; it’s as if Taylor Swift’s “cardigan” were pared down to its barest, most skeletal components. A self-reflection on self-worth, she asks, “Is my love worth something? / ‘Cause it don’t feel so free.” Similarly minimal, “tap” contains more layers and more momentum, and manages to say something new about social media that isn’t a) corny or b) said before. “Tap the heart / Until I hate myself / Hit the square / And rearrange myself,” she sings, distilling the act of being online down to its most crucial parts.
“I know I’m not Jesus, but Jesus, I’m trying to be enough,” she sings on “born again runner,” a song about confronting a religious upbringing and her target’s hypocrisy (“You preach peace and patience / But you don’t seem to have your own.”) It’s a powerful sentiment, especially as it serves almost as a psychological dive into Tomberlin’s emotions. On the opening lyrics, she explains, “Woke up and read the news / Start my day crying over things you prayed would break our hearts / When my sisters and I were young / You said we’re trying to learn to consider others more important than ourselves,” as if offering a reason to her deep feelings.
The album progressively gets more intense, starting from the sparse “easy” to indie rock cuts like “stoned” and “happy accident.” “stoned,” a heartfelt admission where Tomberlin’s voice quivers, speaks to unshakeable feelings (“Felt so lonely / Made me want / To sink / Not float / So I crushed the feeling / With a smoke / So stoned.”) Though “happy accident” mostly stalls in one sonic place, it boasts the lines “What’s the point of this / I don’t know how it ends,” speaking to an existential line of questioning, similarly to the title track.
“collect caller” is a slice of coffee-shop indie-pop, but the lyrics are some of the most interesting on the album. On what is essentially a call-out track for a social media influencer-friend/lover, Tomberlin notes their inauthenticity with, “Go stack your followers / Networking at every show / Could build the Tower of Babel / as you babble on.” She can’t stay mad too long, though, as niceties get the best of her as she says, “No hate, I know these / Are very rough times.”
It could benefit from some louder moments; the majority of the album sounds like the soundtrack to a dreary indie film (not aided by the songs hovering around the 5-minute mark), though useful for some songs like “born again runner” or “collect caller.” When the switch-ups arrive, in the form of “stoned” or “happy accident,” her voice rises and it’s hard not to draw comparisons to indie rock darling Phoebe Bridgers, especially as the two lyricists pull from day-to-day experiences or concrete memories.
The title, i don’t know who needs to hear this… could speak to Tomberlin’s mission with the record: producing songs for an unknown audience with the hope that they can relate to it. Or, as she says on the final track, “Sometimes it’s good / To sing your feelings.” It could be therapy for her, and we’re the beneficiaries of this outward healing process.
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