Musings of an indie songstress
The experimental, electro-pop artist Nandi Rose Plunkett, who records under the name Half Waif, has put out her latest album titled Lavender. She has been releasing music stemming back from her first Bandcamp releases in 2012. Lavender combines her signature synth-pop sound with introspective, lyrics of wandering and isolation. The album is named after her late grandmother who picked lavender to boil on the stove. Therefore the album covers themes of loss with even a couple tracks where Plunkett is essentially singing to and honoring her grandmother.
Lavender was created with the help of fellow musicians Adan Carlo (bass/guitar) and Zack Levine (drums). She packs on layers of vocals that weave through each song. The end product is akin to the some of the sounds coming from fellow female pop artist St. Vincent. There’s a darkness, however, that creeps in throughout the album evidenced in the sometimes veiled lyrics. According to Plunkett, “…themes of aging and collapse are all over this album. It is an elegy to time, the pilgrimages we take, and the ultimate slow plod towards our end.”
The album begins with a lonely moodiness on “Lavender Burning.” It touches on the locations she longs for. Crying out “I miss New York,” Plunkett connects with anyone feeling a lost sense of home. Other poignant lyrics include “Trying to give a name to the place where my heart is.” The track begins slowly, lulling the listener with her earnest voice until big blasts of drums arrive with a powerful force.
The first single “Keep It Out” is an emotional electro ballad with lyrics about missing an estranged lover. Plunkett’s rousing melody that meets an energetic drum beat on a song that picks up the album’s pace. She adds an element of hushed sadness when she sings, “Watch me as I disengage.” The pop-rock feel is what makes this track the most accessible.
Plunkett trades out the overused synths for a real piano on the soft ballad “Back in Brooklyn.” With moving emotional sections, it breaks through the static some of her other tracks can get stuck in. As well as that, it shows off her vocal ability, even for just a short moment, when she really gets up to some powerful notes while pleading, “Listen to me now.” The song relates to the listener a heartbreaking story in an almost theatrical style.
The problem arrives when the all the tracks are taken into account together. Plunkett’s voice is a tad bland and pitchy at times and the songs are frustratingly unmemorable. Lyrics, on the other hand, are generally kind of hollow and plainly spoken. All, except a few, of the tracks revolve around these moody, atmospheric low synths that end up not being effective when the percussion is simultaneously uninteresting. Overall, it feels like the slow background music for a movie, with nothing really exciting going on that would stand out and draw too much attention to itself.