Half Waif's 'Mythopoetics' Is Far More Direct Than Its Name Suggests
Published Jul 05, 2021What is it about Nandi Rose (a.k.a. Half Waif) that causes people to describe her art in such a lavish manner? Reviews for last year's sweeping and cascading The Caretaker found critics focusing more on her emotions than her actual craft, using billowing language like "supersaturated moments of her past" (to quote our own review). Writing and recording her fifth full-length throughout a year where it was easy to connect to everyone else's pain, Rose's music finally doesn't seem so distant, so mysterious or so yearning.
But that's not to say that this LP isn't affecting — the New York musician finds her craft ebbing and flowing through innumerable moods, albeit more human than ethereal this time around. The relatability that Rose exudes on Mythopoetics makes the album title somewhat ironic. "Sourdough" pulls few punches lyrically, as it's easy to understand the symbolism behind this gorgeously direct piano ballad, while the swirling synths of "Orange Blossoms" connects her own helplessness with the loneliness her father shares at the same moment.
Given Rose's typical arrangements of layered vocals, piano, synths and beats, there's nothing really sonically different about this latest LP that she hasn't shown us before. But on tracks like the aerated "The Apartment" and the echoing "Sodium & Cigarettes," she doesn't merely play with her delivery as she's done many times in the past — here, she instead allows her songs to unravel and flow in different directions. Opening track "Fabric" is a brief solo keys-and-voice piece that features a barely-there chorus, while the dance-beat-aided follow-up "Swimmer" and the delicate synth haze of "Party's Over" show Rose pushing her voice through a number of modes, including Kate Bush-style high-resister top-ups and playful rhythmic coupling, all anchored by big, soaring choruses.
The scratchy, spiralling "Fortress" and the earthy "Midnight Asks" follow this blueprint closely, showing Rose keeping each song relatively contained within the same space, as everything runs around the same three-to-four-minute mark. But that doesn't make Rose's latest LP anything less than an achievement, as the stuttering, clashing "Take Away the Ache" and the pop-facing "Horse Racing" come off as career highlights. Mythopoetics may be Rose's most approachable album, but that just means that the world has finally caught up with Half Waif's wide-lens world. (ANTI- Records)