Charlotte Cornfield Embraces Sweet Emotion on 'Highs in the Minuses'
Published Oct 27, 2021The beautiful thing about Charlotte Cornfield's music is how she is able to make stories so personal to her, feel personal to you. On her fourth record Highs in the Minuses, Cornfield is her usual candid self, but she sounds steadier and her experiences are even more in focus. Maybe you've never spent a summer in Brooklyn (like she sings about in "Out of the Country") and you probably don't know Chris or Ana (some of the people mentioned on the album) but Cornfield always makes sure that the emotions at the core of each song are accessible to everybody.
Highs in the Minuses is about exactly that: the dizzyingly sweet moments that happen even when things feel unbearably bad. In the minuses, there's a pandemic ("Headlines"), all-consuming anxiety ("Destroy Me"), and a toxic relationship ("Drunk For You"). But the highs are filled with skateboarding ("Skateboarding by the Lake") and a face-hurts-from-smiling-so-much type of love permeates the record. "Partner in Crime" is a love story that will tug on even a cynic's heartstrings and on "Black Tattoo," Cornfield is head over heels in love: "Guess my heart is yours to burglarize so come on in and steal everything."
Largely recorded in five days with Alexandra Levy (Ada Lea) on bass and Liam O'Neill (Suuns) on drums — with additional contributions from guitarist Sam Gleason and Amy Millan (Stars) providing vocals — Highs in the Minuses is both playful and raw-sounding. "Headlines" and "Modern Medicine" have casual pop-rock grooves that combat the dread of their lyrics, while tracks like "Pac-Man" and "Blame Myself" have a grungier full-band sound to them. On the album's stark piano ballads, Cornfield's lyrics are particularly shattering. "I don't even need you to be tender," she sings on the devastating "Drunk For You." "Just don't be mean."
The album's opening song "Skateboarding by the Lake" is a brief exultation that mirrors the joy you feel when you nail your first ollie. It's also where Cornfield introduces the happiness that's nestled into Highs in the Minuses. It's a song about forward motion and doing your best with whatever comes your way. "You lean on my shoulder and tell me that you think you're finally getting the hang of the kick push thing," Cornfield sings about an unnamed person in her life. But she could also be singing about herself, or maybe she's singing about you as you finally start to get the hang of things. (Next Door)