Maple Glider (real name: Tori Zietsch) reaches far and wide across the emotional spectrum to deliver an unadorned and heartfelt performance on her debut To Enjoy is the Only Thing.
Melbourne-based Zietsch wrote the bulk of the album while living in Brighton and was more concerned with the intensity of feelings than life’s events’ worldly significance. To Enjoy is thematically wide-ranging yet undeniably personal: the gripping Weyes Blood-reminiscent ‘As Tradition’ embodies a sense of disassociation, anchoring its reference points in Zietsch’s religious upbringing; ‘Views From This Side’ is a gorgeous ode to intergenerational love and the cycle of life rooted in Zietsch’s own family ties; ‘Friend’ is a candid love letter to imperfect friendships with allusions to a former bandmate and stand-out ‘Good Thing’ is a retrospective on the end of a romantic relationship that permeates much of the album.
Producer Tom Iansek and Zietsch came up with plenty of understated arrangements to underscore the strength of the songwriting: the bare instrumentation often suffices to let words and melodic motifs sink in. They create moments out of spectacular penmanship, including ‘As Tradition’s scant piano-led first line (“Love is just a word I have learned I may use at my own expense.”) Equally noteworthy is the world-building of ‘Swimming’: skeletal drums provide a febrile structure for picked guitars to snuggle against as Zietsch disappears in the depths of her own reflection.
The stripped approach inevitably reveals any and all weakness on the writing side, giving a couple of lackluster pieces, including the drowsy ‘Baby Tiger’ or the dull ‘Be Mean, It’s Kinder Than Crying.’ The latter’s composition doesn’t live up to the promise of its text; the monster of an opening line “It seems I’ve done a terrible thing” shivers with unresolved anticipation that reads like a missed opportunity by the time the song has run its course.
With Zietsch, we come to the realization that time is not a resource so precious you should hold on to it for dear life. Squander away, take the time to find yourself, to extricate your own desires and interest from the ambient fear and doubt. It’s a messy affair, one wonderfully encapsulated in ‘Good Thing’s centerpiece: “I’d rather kill a good thing / Than wait for it to die.” Zietsch penned the opportunity for herself on this track: she soars across a particularly confounding experience and comes out the other side with an unrivaled performance among more temperate tracks. The song sticks out so much that it hints at a world of new possibilities at arm’s reach. A storm is quietly brewing, and coming up to shore is Maple Glider in all her bewildering glory.