Do You Want to Find Yourself or Lose Yourself?
Bleached is a pop-punk number that fits into the rare but treasured all-girl-group category, taking on modern artists like HAIM, Ex Hex and Girlpool. Bleached was started by LA-based sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, adding third member, bassist Micayla Grace. Welcome the Worms is the band’s sophomore LP, and was produced and engineered by Joe Chiccarelli, who has also worked with The Strokes and Elton John. This follows up 2013’s Ride Your Heart, which has a decidedly softer, more surf rock feel.
The inspirations for Welcome the Worms come from personal challenges faced by the sisters. While Jen ended a bad relationship, Jessie had been evicted from her house and was facing the struggles of alcohol excess and losing oneself. The result was some anger-driven, soul-searching songwriting that embodies the feeling of being a frazzled-mess-turned-loose-cannon.
The lyrics of “Sleepwalking” hit this point pretty provocatively. “Sleepwalking, no sun inside /Oh mister, can’t you see I’m losing my mind / It’s really too bad to feel like the walking dead, but now our eyes are opened wide.” Opening track “Keep On Keepin’ On” expresses the sentiment of hanging in there, with a steady beat that feels like a monotonous but drudging pace. Then, “Trying to Lose Myself Again” escapes into the idea of escaping via substances and the interesting paradox between trying to find yourself and trying to lose yourself. Which are you really seeking?
“Wednesday Night Melody” takes on a pop beat in a rock format with some darkened psychedelic elements. This stands out as the “get your shit together” track of the disc, pushing out encouraging lyrics, yet with a sarcastic, negative underlay. It’s like the feelings you go through when trying to motivate yourself. You start off with positive energy and end up sinking into self-doubt and internal questioning. Maybe you should just give up after all. “You’ve been running for days, and I hope that you will find your way,” leads up to “Waste away / Just waste away.” Then, we hear the line, “Soak in the rays from the grave. The shadows don’t mind on this Wednesday night melody.”
“Wasted on You” also instigates this idea of losing yourself and being a mess, this time in the form of being tangled in a bad relationship. This one draws off of Jen’s own personal experience and has some poppy drum blasts and catchy verses feeding off the drug-use metaphor. “Will you be my drug? We can ride into the sunset empathetically numb, trying to think of nothing at all.” This leads up to the revelation. “I’ve gotta stop wasting my emotions on you.”
“Desolate Town” has the grungiest feel of Welcome the Worms, with heavy, dark lyrics to match the instrumentals, which are driven by a descending series of minor key bass chords. “I’m not gonna let you in,” is the anthem, followed by fueled drum blasts. “I’m All Over the Place (Mystic Mama)” is another strong track instrumentally, feeding off energy from a dark place and using that to create chord and vocal keys.
The disc wraps with “Hollywood, We Did it All Wrong,” which takes things out from this super dark place and puts it back into a less heavy angsty mindset. There are lighter tones and softer drumbeats, as well as a climbing bass. There are some good memories in there that lead to nostalgia. “In your car, up and down the boulevard, blasting the radio… Where are we now?” These lines turn into, “Pictures of you clouding up my view… Hey, memories, you got your hold on me. So tell me, what do I do with these pictures of you?” It’s the universal realization that the past has a grip on us and we have a choice to hold on or let go. The decision is yours.