Indigo De Souza's 'Any Shape You Take' Is the Kindest Breakup Record You'll Hear This Year
Published Aug 26, 2021Indigo De Souza's second record opens on that tiny, clarifying moment between an end and a beginning. Voice bubbling with Auto-Tune, she sings a hopeful intention into the big world laid out before her: "This is the way I'm going to bend / now that the baby's gone."
It's unclear exactly who's being addressed, who's gone and how they went away, but specifics rarely matter in the face of such feeling. "17" is the moment when death and birth feel one and the same — the ache of finding a hole in your heart and the tender buzz that wonders what new strangeness you'll fill it with.
Any Shape You Take is a record about love as transit rather than destination, one that dwells at all the stops before and after total unity. It's the kindest and most empathetic quasi-breakup record you'll likely find this year; a manifesto on the resilience of love in the face of bone-shifting transformation. "When pain is real / you cannot run," De Souza sings on "Real Pain," a statement that feels like defeat until she strikes at it with a bigger, brighter truth: "And love might go / but is not gone / I still know you."
Before things get too wise and easy, however, she twists the knife. After devolving into a maelstrom of shrieks and muttered curses, "Real Pain" erupts in a fit of panicked deflection: "I wanna kick, I wanna scream / I wanna know it's not my fault / I didn't mean it." Any Shape You Take's myriad journeys aren't always pretty, its finales rarely final ⎯ the icy "Darker Than Death" is a volley of small grievances, the game of keep-it-up you play until the ball drops and you're forced to face the bigger picture. But while her words are sharp and direct, De Souza never sneers or prods. Even at its ugliest, Any Shape You Take tries with all its might to lead with kindness and understanding, finding a coming together in the coming apart: "Did you feel it too? When we both went blind / You wouldn't even look me in the eye."
Looking back on it, 2018's shaggy I Love My Mom feels like the modest root system that Any Shape You Take erupts from in all its florid hugeness. From the desert-blues guitar that knits itself across the muscular coda of "Real Pain," the way De Souza's voice condenses to a vein of skyward fluorescence on "Bad Dream" or the latticework rhythm on the sparkling "Hold U," Any Shape You Take is endlessly energized, each corroded riff and synth streak glowing with purpose.
The burbling, flexible "Hold U" is perhaps the record's highest high. It's De Souza's "Heart of Glass," the go-for-broke pop song that somehow buoys even the record's heaviest tracks with its presence. It's also a hint at the places that De Souza's music could take her, the record's oil-slick grunge mutated into something entirely new. That sense of aliveness is the crux of the Any Shape You Take, the feeling that these songs — and De Souza herself — are still caught in the vortex of transformation.
It's a gift that she never lets that cyclone of feeling knock her off her feet. When she sings "I'm stupid if I let you go / but you deserve to get what you've been giving / It's not what I wanted / but it's what's true to me," on the steadily chugging "Pretty Pictures," it doesn't feel patronizing or selfish — "it's not you, it's me!" — but real and painful and honest. When Indigo De Souza says she wants the best for you — for all of us — you believe her. (Saddle Creek)