April 21, 2015

EP: Clams - PDA Queen

Clams' PDA Queen is young love lacking pretension and metaphor.

I was a nervous wreck when Clams took the stage at Friends First Fest last summer. Friends First Fest was a mini-festival dedicated to first-time performers at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn. The lo-fi twee-pop duo preceded my own debut as Shakai Mondai and the long night of anticipation was palpable on all three of of our faces. My anxiety peaked when vocalist and keyboard player Ellen took the stage, toting an analog korg while donned in an effortless white jumper. Suddenly my all black outfit felt a little too tight, my hair a bit greasy, my makeup overdone. But my initial jealousy was quickly taken over by appreciation of Clams' set. Soft spoken, fragile, and painfully sweet, the duo possessed a vulnerability that I admired. Their earnestness is what compels me to make music—to connect with others in a visceral, emotive level.

Womyn artists are often assumed as competitors, but moments of unadulterated connection remind me that honest music is a force to reconcile pretense. Clam’s first release, PDA Queen, is a sincere reflection on youthful love caught amidst the drag of insecurity and growing up. The dissonant interplay of acoustic guitar and sparse keys highlight Ellen and Rob’s vocals that remain in constant union throughout the EP, perhaps a gesture towards the duo’s real life partnership. The lyrics that are written with an almost child-like honesty are the focus of the collection. Sugary lines that resonate with the excitement of young love like, “we compare lips and scars and hips” and “u say you’ve never felt so warm” are matched by equally evocative moments of growth. “I need to work on things/ I haven’t tried because I’ve twisted it all up in my head/ into pitying myself/ I’m selfish and I need help from u,” the two sing in their text message inspired song, “plz don’t ignore me.” A partnership includes sentimentality and the desire to good for one other, help one another grow. PDA Queen is young love lacking pretension and metaphor. The EP is an archive of youthful intimacy — clumsy, idealistic, and honest, but beautiful all the same.


Listen to Clams on bandcamp.

Rachel Ishikawa performs solo as Shakai Mondai, and as 1/5 of the band Peaks. She's trying to show bad cat Andie how to love.