WILLOW‘s fourth studio album, titled lately I feel EVERYTHING, was a pop-punk-indie-rock departure from her previous R&B/neo-soul style. Her latest album, <COPINGMECHANISM>, continued in both that musical and lyrical vein. On lately, she felt everything. On <COPINGMECHANISM>, she thinks about everything. 

<COPINGMECHANISM> is no straightforward emo/pop-punk album. Not only does WILLOW admit that the responsibility for a failed relationship may have been hers (‘maybe it’s my fault’), she retains flourishes of R&B and neo-soul. These elements combine to separate <COPINGMECHANISM> from the vast majority of modern emo/pop-punk. 

By the third track, WILLOW had drawn me entirely into her album. ‘curious/furious’ was the third single off the album, and it’s easy to tell why: a smooth guitar riff and danceable electronics hooks you, and a memorable melody reels you in. 

What is often a particular peeve of mine becomes a strength in ‘Split.’ WILLOW self-harmonizes, which often sounds tinny to me. WILLOW sounds rich and full at the apex of her song. When other artists sound tinny, WILLOW sounds incredible; where other artists bury their album’s bloat, WILLOW is at her most triumphant. Then ‘hover like a GODDESS’ baits the listener with Paramore guitars and Travis Barker drums, but within a minute, WILLOW displays her stylistic range in an impeccable R&B break before the pop-punk comes roaring back. A neo-soul guitar outro closes my favorite track off the album. 

‘ur a stranger’ sports the most exciting melody of the album and some of the heaviest guitars WILLOW’s ever employed. The break swerves almost into metalcore rhythms; pick slides to accompany the song’s end. And as if metal-adjacent flourishes, neo-soul outros, and R&B vocals weren’t enough to draw you in, ‘Perfectly Not Close To Me’ opens with a gothic intro (courtesy of Yves Tumor) and closes in a silky electronic atmosphere. 

As <COPINGMECHANISM> wraps up, ‘No Control’ slows the vibe, just a hair, but skittery drums remind the listener WILLOW’s not done yet. ‘BATSHIT!’ howls with feedback, then quiets down for the first couple of lines, and then WILLOW cuts loose with screaming vocals.

In summary…

This is far from simple catharsis: WILLOW has thought about a lot throughout the album and realizes some people aren’t worth the time she gives them. From the wisdom of ‘maybe it’s my fault’ to the self-knowledge of ‘BATSHIT!’ and from pop-punk to neo-soul, WILLOW goes beyond the standard trappings of modern emo/punk to create a brilliant genre-melding album. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s