Album Review: Sydney Sprague – ‘maybe I will see you at the end of the world’
Posted: by The Editor
Sydney Sprague’s debut record, maybe I will see you at the end of the world, is a fierce statement of perseverance, brimming with songs that run the gambit from explosive to understated. Sprague is the rare artist who sounds fully formed from the jump, boasting a powerful voice whose sound falls somewhere between Michelle Branch and Julien Baker. As the growing trend of aughts guitar-based indie-pop being reworked by artists who were raised on it continues, we’re likely to see plenty more artists who make music as Sprague does. It seems doubtful, though, that there will be many who so expertly convey those sounds into something that feels this inspired.
The album opens with a song that falls solidly in the center of Sprague’s range, “I refuse to die.” What starts twinkly, the contemplative song eventually sets off and gives the listener their first taste of how boldly resonant this record can get. An obvious highlight of the record comes with “object permanence.” The track features Danielle Durack, a fellow Phoenix musician whose album No Place came out earlier this year. Sprague appears on that record as well. The track is an absolute powerhouse, with verses that groove and skitter, and production that’s murky, often layering lyrics overtop of one another. Its chorus packs a punch and sells the idea that Sprague is more than your average indie-rocker, but has endless crossover appeal thanks to her penchant for delicious melodies. It also contains the wonderful vicious lyric “I see couples in love / I hope they die,” which, if your ears catch it among the hazy guitar, is an extra treat. The first half of the record is the portion that feels like a through and through rock album, and the momentum of “I refuse to die” and “object permanence” comes to ahead on “steve.” Rough, heavy guitar acts as Sprague’s foundation on this incredible track about letting no one else’s opinion of you affect you. It’s chorus is anthemic, made to be screamed along to.
A large portion of maybe I will see you at the end of the world leans closer to country-tinged ballads, a style that works just as well as the fiery, upbeat rock songs for Sprague. Her voice is suited to the amount of emotion one must convey through delivery, and though there is such a toning down on the record’s back half, that doesn’t mean the record gets any less nebulous in its production. Take the quiet stunner that is “Quitter, for instance. Through cold vocal effect, Sprague sings, “If we gave it another try? / Would you put your finger on the dial and press rewind?” The vast, sublime production and tumultuous lyrics make Sprague come across as a pastel goth Kacey Musgraves.
Maybe I will see you at the end of the world is an album that makes no bones about what it’s trying to do. Its influences are clear, and if they’re things you already enjoy, then you’re likely to welcome this into the fold as well. But, unlike many other albums that have absorbed this sort of Michelle Branch-core into their sonic pallets, Sprague’s take doesn’t feel limiting. She’s spoken about the record as feeling like something she had to make, and how she can now breathe a sigh of relief. It never feels like we’re seeing her trap herself in any one style. She could either go on to make something like Mitski’s Be The Cowboy, or Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour, and at no point does either route seem more definite.
Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great /Phenomenal
Eric Bennett | @seething_coast
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