Local indie pop singer and songwriter — better known by Aphra — released her highly anticipated new record Sadness is a Gesture last week, a synth-laced experimental pop effort filled with heart, soul and heartbreaking experiences.
“Most people would listen to my songs and assume it’s about boy meets girl, boy breaks girl’s heart, girl cries. But these songs are actually about my family and the crippling confusion and heartbreak addiction causes.”
This statement lies just below the final track on Watchunas’ Bandcamp page, and serves as a perfect back-cover introduction to her first full release. “Honey” leads the 7-track collection with an almost Beach House-like backing melody to tell a moment of true love between a broken man and his woman before leaping into “Geranimo,” the oddly creepy but undeniably catchy first look into addiction. (“In the valley or darkness will you yell my name / Or will you just make a mess of my body again?”) “Would You” tests Waychunas’ singer/songwriter chops, as only a twang of a guitar compliments her soothing yet broken voice before introducing us to what I can assume to be a pusher / dealer character on the electro-pop shocker “Oh, Peter” to create (in my opinion) one of the best pop tracks of the year so far.
Booming 808s hit us on “Rooms” as we dive further into delirious nights around the city (“I’m taking you high / You’re taking me low”), before “Happy” wakes up in a fuzzed-out folk-driven track that’ll blow out your heart. The closing title track calls out to the love ones lost, ending with a final cry: “Do you still like me now?”
Overall, Aphra’s first collection if filled with perfected electronic pop and a hard-to-tell narrative of everyday struggles through a portal of poignant lyricism and spacey rhythms. If Sadness is a Gesture isn’t on my Albums of The Year list in December, someone come slap some sense into me.
Aphra performs at The Barbary on Wednesday, March 8th. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.