Deanna Petcoff Puts Honesty at the Heart of 'To Hell with You, I Love You'

BY Cole BrocksomPublished Apr 6, 2022

Deanna Petcoff has gathered a following in Toronto's music scene with a lovestruck, forlorn brand of indie rock. Her first full-length LP, To Hell with You, I Love You, is an album for hopeless romantics. Each song alone holds its own nuanced emotionality. From self-deprecation stomper "Trash Bag," to the heart-wrenching piano ballad "Sing with Me," Petcoff's lyrics show there's more beneath the surface than what's at first glance. When taken all together, To Hell with You, I Love You paints a picture of love, loss, and longing.

On opener "Failing Upwards," the first taste of Petcoff's songwriting arrives with a dreamy shuffle and a hook begging to be sung along with. The refrain, "I know you're not trying to break my heart, but you're doing a bang-up job / And I told you I'm not trying to lose your trust, but at least I'm failing upwards" fills a soaring melody, placing the most important and relatable lyrics alongside the catchiest part of the song.

It's a technique Petcoff uses to great effect on tracks like "Devastatingly Mediocre" where she asks herself, "Why do I search all night for a chance to say your name?" or "That's What I Get" with the lament, "That's what we get for always playing pretend, that's what we get for always saying it's fine / it hurts to know that we can't even be friends, that's what we get." These hooks convey complex emotional ideas — like wondering why you let yourself fall for someone who doesn't meet your standards, or knowing you need to move on from a relationship even if you don't want to — in short, memorable fashion. Petcoff expands from there in the verses with clean, beachy guitars and windswept atmospheres.

These aesthetics aren't groundbreaking, but Petcoff still finds room to explore in the styles that she's curated on this project. More upbeat tunes like "I Don't Wanna Get Over You" and "Failing Upwards" have an ethereal, yet driving feel, tiptoeing just outside of garage rock with riffs that harken back to the late-2000s/early-2010s indie rock heyday.

Meanwhile, the slow-burning deep cuts offer some variety. "As Much As I Can" features plucked acoustic rhythm guitar and echoey rimshots that give the tune a bossa nova feel. "I Didn't Lie" starts small with some very bedroom pop digital percussion, but quickly builds to a grandiose swell of strings and voices. Album closer "Sing with Me" is only piano and Petcoff's whisper-quiet vocals, exactly all it needs to let the impact of her songwriting show.

There's an honesty to the music of To Hell with You, I Love You. Though some tracks are more memorable than others, they all serve to put Petcoff's voice and words in the spotlight where they belong. Her songs are confessional and intimate, every word and note carrying emotion; she can make you want to bawl your eyes out in one breath, and then dance the tears away in the next. To Hell with You, I Love You shares a piece of Petcoff's heart that's asking you to sing along.
(Royal Mountain Records)

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