Reflecting on Izzy True's excellent debut record.
It’s hard to know where to start with this wonderfully contradictory album. Izzy True sounds to me like a mix between Hop Along and Elvis Costello, two great tastes that, surprisingly, taste great together. The lead singer, Isabel Reidy, has a voice of an angel that struggles with self-care and gender dysphoria. Meanwhile, the band has a huge range, from ethereal dream pop, to jangly punk bops, to power ballads. It's most fitting for awkward but amusing make out sessions, brave late-night walks, and daydreaming in bed.
The title of the album, Nope, offers an answer to the question posed by the band name. The first track, “Mr. Romance,” expands on this story, weaving a narrative in which the singer moves on from a love interest (“Now that you’ve lost your chance”) and gets a new nickname from their seductive dance moves. Of course, any song about no longer being in love that’s still addressed to the ex-beloved has to be taken with a grain of salt. Witches and ghosts haunt the wistful world of Nope, albeit as mostly benign presences. “Jamie” is a gorgeous ballad about a witch who can “make a snake from a pure white rabbit”- we can only guess whether the rabbit is actually a lover or truly a cottontail. The cautionary “Which Wish” admonishes us that “wishes turn to black magic on your lips.” And then of course there’s the “Sex Ghost,” who send the singer on “many pointless errands.” The world on Nope is rife with mysterious forces, some more menacing than others. Reidy’s lyrics are, in my humble opinion, nothing short of genius. They make complex, unusual rhymes (“My predilections / Send me on weird missions”) sound effortless, and again effortlessly woven into the music. Of course, tons of thought and craft lay beneath the songs’ gorgeous exteriors. Reidy plays with tense, metaphor, and puns like a master poet, and fuses their words to melodies that, although far from generic, are haunting and familiar. Uncanny is the best word I can find for these songs that, while new, seem to touch a very ancient element in songwriting.
Listen to Izzy True on bandcamp.
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Simone Wolff lives in NYC with their grandma, best friend, boyfriend, snake, spider, and two cats. They’re a Cancer sun, Gemini moon, and Capricorn rising.