Now I’m allowing myself to dream
It’s been nine years since the Philadelphia punk band Slutever released their EP Almost Famous. Composed of Nicole Snyder and Rachel Gagliardi, the duo mixed power pop, punk rock and garage rock, as they carved their career with a release of a few singles and EPs before disbanding in 2017. The duo has since then started separate projects, exploring new sounds to add to their repertoire. In the case of Rachel Gagliardi, she has taken upon herself to use what she learned from Slutever and her other band Upset to compose an album that utilizes lush melodies, frenetic rhythms and pounding percussion to deliver a tight consistent experience.
Going by the stage name Pouty, her debut Forgot About Me is as much as a canonization of her previous work, as it a love letter to the groups that inspired her to make music (namely The Breeders). Moving past the rhythm focused attitudes that comprised Slutever and Upset, Forgot About Me makes this new direction clear with its opening track “Salty.” This track utilizes the quiet-loud dynamic effectively as its lyrics match to an almost euphoric degree. Here, the lyrics portray the feeling of being under appreciated and unsung. When certain events can cause projects and ambitions to fail, it can sow seeds of doubt that lead to an identity crisis. This is true in the opening verse where she sings “Here I am, licking my old wounds, begging all of you, for forgiveness.” Gagliardi would go on to say that “It also address the fear of being left out, of outgrowing places and people, of feeling discarded.” The next track “The Big Stage” moves away from the resentment and self-doubt and delves into the fantasy of being in a band. In the third verse of the song Gagliardi sings “I’m gonna fly, over and all of the places, because I want to look out, at everyone’s lovin faces.” The desire to play to large crowds, putting your time and energy into something creative, hoping it will all work out in the end, emboldens Gagliardi to act out her desires and remain optimistic in the worst of times.
“Bridge Burner” drops the scuzzy pop for a moment and goes for a more country flavor that sings about failed relationships. Accompanied by a slide guitar throughout the song, the lyrics paint a picture of how certain bonds will break in spite of the shared experiences one has with them. Whether its friends, bandmates, significant others etc., “Bridge Burner” plays out a narration of those failed relationships that has Gagliardi at her most tender and intimate. “Virgos Need More Love,” “Denial Is a Heavy Drug” and “Kill A Feeling” are the three tracks that showcase Gagliardi’s love for The Breeders. In “Virgos Need More Love,” taking a page from Kim Deal’s knack of writing infectious hooks, this track will have one singing the main lines of the chorus repeatedly. “Denial Is a Heavy Drug” rips straight into a frenzy. Once again utilizing the quiet-loud dynamic, Gagliardi sings with a sense of apathy. The lyrics open up with “what’s there left to believe in? / what’s there left to give a shit about? / seems like the whole world’s in mourning / disappearing without a warning.” Showcasing the song’s theme of how denying the true nature of things can take its toll on one’s psyche. On “Kill A Feeling,” the song plays out a distorted rhythmic section that explodes throughout the song. Only in its final moments does the song winds down, ending with a release of tension in the final verse.
Pouty’s Forgot About Me is without a doubt Gagliardi’s most balanced effort. Taking all the experiences from her previous bands and releasing an album that puts her deepest thoughts on display. Forgot About Me is an album that is as much about denial as it is about fantasy. Two words that may have a similar definition, but when put into context can mean entirely two different things. Whether it’s the denial of the agency one has in their life or a fantasy that can become someone’s ambition- those feelings should matter and should be remembered. Though her work with Slutever and Upset may not have received recognition at the time, Rachel Gagliardi can hold her head up high on this release, as it is nothing short of excellent among the other things she’s done or will do in her career.