Abi Reimold – ‘Wriggling’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

The singer-songwriters of the world have slowly been taking over my listening habits. I had always admired an individual for being able to craft songs almost entirely by themselves and recently there has been a surge of solo projects worth diving into. In 2015 the likes of Julien Baker, Liza Anne and Meg Myers are three that come to mind that all differ in terms of their sound. For 2016, I can only assume the various individuals with their eyes set for the sky will continue to lift me up with them. Abi Reimold hails from Philadelphia and is the newest member to join my ever expanding playlist of fantastic albums with Wriggling. Getting past the wretched and crawling cover art only opens your ears to Reimold’s vicious delivery; in which you find yourself squirming away from but she pulls you in closer and grasps your emotions so tight it’s suffocating. That’s how well she controls the space on her debut LP, distributed through Sad Cactus Records. 

Sonically, Wriggling sounds like the dark offspring of Chelsea Wolfe, Torres and Sun Kil Moon. She creates incredibly desolate musical scores that are further pulverized with guitar lines that bounce between soft plucked notes and buzzing distorted progressions. On “Dust,” she lets the music sit in the back seat as she drives home a vocal performance that is both haunting and stimulating. Her vocals are quivering yet confident, amorphous while authoritative; she lets her voice be the violent crash that creeps behind the distorted drums and airy guitars. Her ability to showcase her pain in the music is flawless, creating a sense of urgency that makes every second of every track feel like her last beckoning to the world. She’s near lifeless on “Stain” as she sits behind a lone guitar. Throughout “Bad Seed” she showcases her ability to be vivid with abrasive and dissonant instrumentals. Wriggling is the audible illustration of being at one’s peace with ruinous emotions.

So we know what Abi Reimold sounds like, but what is she trying to say? Through all of the different instrumental sections found on Wriggling, what is she conveying? Just like her music, Abi Reimold paints distraught images through her lyrics; leading others into her mind only to be left squirming for more. “Trap” is one of the most lust filled tracks I have heard, but Reimold is methodical in her approach with lines like, “circling for parking but the streets won’t relent, bumper to bumper on a freeway of our decent, it’s too far to walk.” She is displaying herself as a trap and telling people to run yet she’s caught in her own trap of being called back. Her stream of conscious is verbose on “Clouded,” allowing words to bring their own infectious pull with her dissonance, assonance and masterful writing style (“I am waxing you are waning can’t get down with your complaining chronic inaction losing traction what’s today’s latest distraction?”). On “Vessel” she is combining a lullaby with her most affectionate vocal performance and her most numb state of affairs. The music is simple in bringing you to bed but her constant worry and keeps you turning over and over hoping to find comfort in her unknown.

Abi Reimold on Wriggling is both snuggled up against your body while you sleep and a nightmare playing out in your dreams. She’s well aware of her destructive and cozy embrace, opening herself up with needles and pouring out her blood on “Stain.” Here we find Reimold clawing at your skin with ominous guitars met with hopeless vocals as she croons, “believe me I could play with you but what would happen if I do?” Loving her is an orbital anomaly, concluding that the stars would implode if we ever tried. Her journey of love brings out a delicate poignancy that I can’t help but feel connected too. It all began with opening track “Arrange” where she realizes her heart is overworking itself in trying to love but in the next moment is self-loathing and full of anxieties. “Will you see this and be repulsed?” she pleads. And in the same light I find myself begging her to continue her musical dominance. She’s both the distorted pleasure we seek and the guilty treasure we would never want to keep. 

And to finalize where all of her turmoil resides, closing track “Won’t Clot” is a dark sendoff that musically is full of whimsy and beauty. The vocal harmonies are pushing through an almost entire a cappella track save for the cringing notes stumbling behind her. Her wounds are forever open and she is forever bleeding. Every ounce of worry and pleasure she ventured through earlier on has succumbed to the same death her love has, she’s forever losing, “it stung but I couldn’t tell if it cut it felt numb but now I know that it won’t clot.” She is surrounded by the ever flowing known fact that she is fighting for her securities to send her somewhere safe, somewhere serene. But in that silence she is still a ruined hope. After all is said and done, this record will leave your emotions struggling to find peace like the very worms on the cover, caught in a bowl and writhing to not be someone’s food.

Yet, Abi Reimold presents all of these tracks with a bit of hope. Somehow, her knowing she is not immortal is pleasing. Between all of the vocals that are clawing at the ears on “Dust,” she comes to the conclusion of, “I will learn what the dust tastes like, I am not immune.” It’s as if she is staring at the cob-webbed skeleton of her future self and shedding her innocence, ready to live and strive through whatever darkness she possess; and on Wriggling, there is plenty of dark to find and thanks to Abi Reimold, it’s affectionately seductive.

Score: 8.75/10

Pickup the record here!