Toronto's NYSSA Subverts Traditions on 'Girls Like Me'

BY Sarah ChodosPublished Aug 21, 2020

Girls Like Me is the debut full-length album from Toronto musician NYSSA, who was writing and performing songs by age 12, leading to her befriending artists of all ages and walks of life. That influence can be heard on this album, as NYSSA forges an original sound, stating; "I aim to shed light on new pathways. Non-men lack the power to wander freely."

Gender subversion has always been a major component of glam music, although different artists utilize it differently. NYSSA is going beyond subversion. Rather than simply turning gender upside down, NYSSA blasts it to smithereens. Interestingly enough, the music on Girls Like Me also bridges the gulf between glam and rock 'n' roll, and some very faint folk/country influences can be heard as well. The use of electronic sounds means that glam artists are no longer dependent on their physical existence in space, allowing for new possibilities. NYSSA is not only enjoying this freedom, but also reexamining the space.

Everything is being called into question here: gender roles and gender subversion, musical traditions and the rejection of musical traditions. In "The Swans" the lyrics are, at times more spoken than sung, with very dance-able electronic music in the background: "People will talk and talk they like to talk about five year plans and money down… I'm alive!"

There are also moments where the melody has the singable quality of a folk song. "Hey Jackie" starts out slow before kicking into a stronger beat. One can't help but imagine how the song might sound in a solo acoustic version.

In "Anybodys", which is slow and ominous, NYSSA's voice takes on an operatic quality. The song has both a submissive and a vengeful feeling to it, with the lyrics "I see you got out of the big house in one piece / You got no clue, do you, just how happy that makes me."

In listening to Girls Like Me, there is the sense of not knowing what NYSSA will do next. This is an exciting debut album with the promise of even more light shed along this new pathway.

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