Liz Lawrence Has a New EP to Add a Little Brightness to Your Life

Liz Lawrence Has a New EP to Add a Little Brightness to Your Life

With an indie pop sound that’s always evolving, Liz Lawrence’s EP Whoosh is a great, reassuring listen.

Liz Lawrence had a big 2019 with the release of her second album Pity Party. She began this year supporting Bombay Bicycle Club on tour as well as playing a few shows of her own. While things have changed plenty since then, she has released a new four track EP, Whoosh. Three of the songs were written back in December, full of bright visions for 2020, and the final track was written early in lockdown. All the songs are fantastic. Lawrence’s brand of indie pop is never static. She freely mixes influences, never shying away from beats and synths and also happy to let guitar, bass and drums take it away. She sings with an emotional heft, even in the lighter songs, and she always sounds empathetic, which is just what we need these days. 

The opening track which gives the EP its title, “Whoosh,” opens with a beat and soupy guitar. It finds an easy-going groove, but tenses up when Lawrence’s voice, bass, and drums come in. It’s not overly serious, but more of a low boil. Lawrence is joined on the track by the Georgia Mass Choir for the chorus. The tension of the first half fades away as the song shifts into a brighter, happier sound and becomes truly carefree. All the same elements are there, steady bass and drums, effects-drenched guitar, and Lawrence’s easy singing, but the joy that the Choir sings about shines brightest. The guitar finds a new riff, and Lawrence sings and vocalizes freely. The shift can’t help but affect you, helping to melt away some of the tension. It’s a fun start, all centered around that mid song shift.

“California Screaming” opens with steady bass and echoey hand drums. The guitar strums glide over the top, glistening and clear. Its sparsity against the ever present bass gives the song a driving yet meandering feeling. Lawrence’s voice has a hint of fuzz, enhancing the airy nature of her singing on the track. More layers of guitar build up as the song goes on, some with clear plucking, others with crunchy riffs. The lyrics highlight feelings of anxiety and unease: “Constantly I’m thinkin’ / An alarm is ringin’ / But nobody’s movin’ / I shut my eyes, I listen / Assume the brace position / California Screaming.” But the echoing guitar seems to take those fears and let them float away. As the layers of guitar get deeper, the song just envelops you. It acknowledges the stress that we’re all feeling, but it provides a moment of catharsis with a scream at the end to go with the squealing guitar.

The next track, “East Side,” has a strong dancey beat from the start. It fades somewhat behind Lawrence’s voice and driving bass, but Lawrence embraces layers of synth for a different sound from the previous tracks. She tells an ambiguous story in the lyrics, beginning with “Running and running and running / Running out of time.” It makes you feel like time is short and you have to embrace the moment: 

I met you on the East Side

Come on baby, waste no time

We don’t need to wait in line

Just give me a, give me a try

and meet me on the East Side.

Lawrence sings with restraint, adding contrast with the desperation in the lyrics. As the song goes on, more synth textures and sounds weave in, with some effects-heavy guitar too. It creates a lush wave of sound,letting you get lost in the moment, adrift in the echoey synths. It feels dancey, but at the same time retains a melancholy mood.

“Hope (Or Something Like It)” closes the EP, and it does it in style. Starting off with wooden clicks and electronic beats, Lawrence’s voice rings out. With the second verse comes some new thick synth sounds on a meaty bass line. I’m a sucker for a song with a slow build, and this song does it so well. Brief chewy guitar strums punctuate the lines “A memory, yeah / Let it be, yeah.” The synth and guitar play call and response, taking turns being the next layer added. It’s a gentle crescendo that takes place over the course of the song. It never quite bursts out loud, keeping a restraint even to the end. But it creates such an intensity, with emotions crackling just beneath the surface. Lawrence has a talent for infusing even easy going singing with fervor. The lyrical centerpiece of the song has a build all its own:

That was life

Oh, did you miss it?

And that was freedom

Oh, don’t you miss it?

And this is hope

Or something like it

And this is love

Don’t you forget it

I find this final track reassuring in a strange way. It has a strength and an honesty, and I love the build that never quite explodes, but relishes in its intensity.

With Whoosh, Liz Lawrence has created a wonderful EP. It’s got a great indie pop feel,  sometimes with rich layers of synths and effects, sometimes more stripped down. Across four songs, Lawrence shows an array of sounds, and through it all, creates a restrained yet poignant world. Whoosh is a wonderful, poppy escape, that still always feels emotionally reassuring, and it absolutely left me excited for more from Liz Lawrence.

 

Top Photo by Marieke Macklon

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