An album for the young at heart, and the deeply sentimental
It was a glance at some artwork that inspired Sad13’s newest album, Haunted Painting. While browsing the Frye Gallery in Seattle, Sadie Dupuis (also known as Sad13) made chilling eye contact with a German expressionist painting by Franz Von Stuck. “The Dancer Saharet” was burned into her mind with its sultry, life-beaten look, and soon enough, the writing process of the album began.
The name Sadie Dupuis might be recognizable to some, as she has been a part of a number of musical acts. She released two albums with her former band Quilty, and after the split, she started performing with the band Speedy Ortiz. In 2016, she worked with Lizzo to record the song “Basement Queens,” and has since been working as a solo musician in addition to her contributions to Speedy Ortiz. She released her first solo album, Slugger, that same year. The Philadelphia-based artist has always had a love for music and words. In 2018, she released her first book of poetry entitled Mouthguard, but music has always been on her mind.
Haunted Painting is delightfully youthful and expressive. At times, it’s reminiscent of high school memories–happy, fresh-faced and nostalgic. Other times, it’s unforgettably beautiful with its bits of orchestra and incredibly emotional lyrics. The start of the album fits the theme of the title. “Into The Catacombs” certainly makes listeners feel as if they’re falling directly into the Haunted Painting fantasy. The song paints an image with both its lyrics and its hair-raising string melody. It pulls the audience into Sad13’s world, which isn’t as scary as one might think. In fact, directly past the dark catacombs lies a synth-laden paradise full of color.
“WTD?” is the next song on the album, and it’s a perfect representation of the songs that follow it. It’s got a fun synthesizer beat, complete with vocals that are flawlessly whimsical. “WTD?” immediately shows audiences that Sad13 has a knack for creating a catchy beat with an equally as catchy lyric to go along with it. Posing the question, “What is the drama?” leaves one wondering for the answer while singing along with it. And listeners will find themselves completely hypnotized by the chorus to “With Baby.” The lyric “kissing the hero in the photo booth” is fun to sing along to, and even more fun to dance to.
At the peak of the record comes “Ghost (of a Good Time),” which combines a fun beat that makes one want to dance, with lyrics that say exactly the opposite. The opening lyrics consist of Dupuis convincing her friends to stay in rather than go out (very fitting for the current quarantine times in which people find themselves). She declares that “Going out is just chasing the ghost of a good time,” which is a beautifully poetic way of asking friends to stay in for the night.
Haunted Painting wraps up with the songs “Take Care” and “Market Hotel.” “Take Care” begins with a flute and string orchestra sound, which drags the listener out of the nostalgic daydream of the rest of the album and into a melancholy free fall. It’s gorgeously raw and pulls back from the higher tempo songs. “Market Hotel” matches the energy of the rest of the album, and yet somehow manages to sound like the end credits song to a grungy romance movie.
Haunted Painting tugs at the heartstrings, and it brings out all the nostalgic memories that listeners didn’t even know they had hidden away. While listening to the album, people will find themselves both floating in the clouds and sinking into the catacombs.