Writing music reviews while avoiding reductive clichés can be trickier than it seems. It’s all too easy to use the same old synonyms for idiosyncrasy, extolling the uniquely individual timbre and feel of an artist’s singing voice. To be honest, it’s almost annoying when someone like Indigo De Souza makes these corny hackings unavoidable.
De Souza’s delivery is instantly recognisable but never jarring. She manages to hit notes seamlessly while sharply, emotively yelping in a manner that leaves the listener never doubting her earnestness. She doesn’t leave any doubt as to which part of her garment her heart resides on. Across her first two albums (especially Any Shape You Take), the North Carolina artist managed to expertly dip her toes into a breadth of genres without milking any of them.
Her new record, All of This Will End, exudes a sense of growth, mortality, and rejuvenation without abandoning her sense of playful realism.
Opening track ‘Time Back’ is a compositionally bold way to kick things off. A soaring space pop anthem riding on flotillas of dirty synths takes an unexpected descent into a nightmarish nursery rhyme of resentment. It’s impossible to tell whether this was more than one idea melded together to make a new song or a predetermined song structure broken down to the extreme.
The third single to be released from the album, ‘You Can Be Mean’ has as its backbone the kind of single coil pickup, lightly overdriven rhythm guitar tone that, quite frankly, puts the mutton in my pie. Some of the gorgeously barbed turns of phrase aimed towards a former lover are enough to make you wince.
The chorus of ‘Losing’ lends itself to being sung along to while waving your hands in the air quite slowly. The themes of moving forward after a break-up or even just a closing chapter of life continue. The verses in ‘Wasting Your Time’ are based around the sort of two-note riff that the likes of Tad and Gruntruck (google them, kids) massaged into entire grungey careers. It means that the relatively calm choruses stick out as all the more melodic.
‘Parking Lot’ might be my favourite song on the entire record. The playful imagery thrown around, of mundane outdoor suburban items like shopping carts, makes the vocal bury further into the listener’s consciousness. The driving drums build with each new verse, propelling forward a sort of nonnarrative about contemplating stuff. Title track ‘All of This Will End’ boasts a densesounding hook throughout the chorus and a comparatively comforting, plodding tempo. The title has been acting as a motto for De Souza in recent times, but the lyrics feel as if they were begat rather than written, such is the pure flow of emotion to paper to magnetic tape.
As a counterpoint, ‘Smog’ is a danceable slab of musical joy hiding some deceptively self-effacing lyrics. When you see them written down – ‘I don’t think I’m gonna make it / I don’t think anything / I just sit down and shut up / And hope they don’t notice me’ – it all sounds a bit defeatist, but those lines are delivered with such assurance and vigour that they fit the uplifting track. Thematically, ‘The Water’ marks a turning point away from the previous ideas of moving on, building from a childhood memory of visiting a friend and centred around reminiscence rather than looking forward. There’s a class, welcome brass riff.
‘Always’ dynamically shifts between quiet and then noisy, strained sections. Lyrically, she’s examining her relationship with her father, and the chaotic fuzz guitars cutting in and out over the quieter sections does not suggest that the core of their relationship was going ice skating and buying churros together. ‘I thought you’d be here’, De Souza screams at his memory. ‘Not My Body’ has an enjoyable cocktail of sonic elements diving around the mix. At one point, what sounds like a theremin blends with vocals and then back again. Layers of subtle samples, slide guitars, and gentle piano build a dense cushion of a soundscape.
Lead single ‘Younger & Dumber’ is a proper bedroom songwriter’s song. An ode to a younger self that grows organically from a nostalgic whisper to a cathartic roar. Of her latest record, De Souza says, ‘All of This Will End feels more true to me than anything ever has; my music feels like it’s coming from a centred place of reflection’ and it’s hard to disagree with her. Indeed, it’s difficult to feel anything other than a deep empathetic pull to this album.
To someone, somewhere, this record will happen to them at exactly the right point in life when they’re moving from one of early adulthood’s regular traumas onto brighter, regenerated pastures. Every inflection and word recorded here will follow them for the rest of their lives. And that voice? Yeah, it’s unique. It’s idiosyncratic. It’s glorious, and all the cheap, boring, overused lexicons won’t detract from that.