Modern takes on modern issues
Artsick was created amid the breakup of guitarist and vocalist Christina Riley’s previous band: Burnt Palms. In the wake of this dissolution, Riley joined forces with bassist Donna McMean and drummer Mario Hernandez to create Artsick. Forming in 2018 and hailing from the Bay Area, this band is a fusion of indie-pop with twee pop, riot grrrl and garage rock undertones. Their new album was released in 2022 under the title “Fingers Crossed,” and features an exciting 11 song lineup.
“Restless” kicks things off with an ambitious beginning, opening with a loud thumping that seems to mimic an anxiously beating heart. The tambourine hastily jumps in within the first 5 or so seconds. Additionally, a strong and quick guitar strums along with the lyrics “Satisfaction, where are you?/Dissatisfaction with everything I do.” All of these elements combine to deliver a frantic, overwhelming sense of impending faults within ourselves. This song uses lyrical intelligence and instrumental emotionality to convey a sort of unquiet voice, one that sometimes occupies our own thoughts.
“Despise” is a song that easily results in the sudden and uncontrollable tapping of one’s feet. Edgy and witty, this song’s distorted guitar utilizes heavy feedback creating an antsy, rebellious sound reminiscent of early Pearl Jam or ’90s Nirvana. The lyrics “I shouldn’t be surprised/ You’re just a waste of my time/A fake person in my life/ Tired of being nice/ When you take what’s mine” are poignant, humorous and express some of the thoughts that go through our mind of those that we “despise.”
The 3 minute and 17-second thriller of a song, “Look Again” utilizes a 12 string guitar underneath the vocally prominent fuzzy bass and complex drum beats, evoking the sounds of modern California Garage rock. In doing so, Artsick emulates the likes of underground SoCal classics like The Shed, as well as more prominent groups such as Peach Pit. Along with this, Christina Riley’s youthful, girlish, indie vocals evoke a twee pop, riot grrrl, West Coast garage fusion that is absolutely lovely to listen to.
“Ship Has Sailed” uses a unique song structure with drums that build a sort of Jumanji type of beat, with sudden electrifying piercing guitar entrances that springs in to a full stop. This track is a playful take on moving on from a relationship that is both cheeky and sassy at the same time.
“Ghost of Myself” employs a dynamic shift between the upbeat instrumentals of Riley’s guitar and Hernandez’s drums with heart-rending, and relatable lyrics of the everyday struggles of mental health struggles. “Mine is an uphill battle as I watch you thrive/Challenges from every angle, so I close my eyes/And count to ten/I’ll get better someday again/ I’ll feel better someday” showcases ways which those with mental struggles cope internally.
Witty, vulnerable and original, once again we are exposed to an underground band that deserves a much, much larger following. Dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety, and modern takes on relationships, this band is deeply in tune with the disquiet of today’s youth.