Wednesday, October 05, 2022

WILLOW finds creative catharsis on new album

Aged only twenty-one, WILLOW has lived more life than most of us. 

Born into one of America’s most famous families, her 2021 album ‘lately I feel EVERYTHING’ confirmed her to be a talent to reckon with in her own right. 

Defying expectations, she has consistently refused to box herself into just one genre or style, instead espousing a fluid, multifaceted identity that is gaining mainstream traction as an antidote to highly stylised social media culture.

On her highly anticipated fifth album ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’, WILLOW makes inroads into vulnerable, joyful, and terrifying corners of her psyche, painting a vivid self-portrait with remarkable candour. And while, as an artist, she resists definition, her new album also explores how rock music can be a vehicle for emotional expression. Early tracks ‘<maybe> it’s my fault', ‘curious/furious’ and title track ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’ see the singer channelling turbulent emotions into a kind of sonic transcendence. The intensity and sheer volume of this album’s production elevate human feeling to something loud and communal. Or, as a memorable line from the title track goes, “I try to feel something, that’s why I break everything”.


WILLOW’s vocals are also foregrounded on ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’, more so than in previous projects. Lo-fi alt-rock tracks ‘Split’ and ‘No Control’ highlight the sonority and depth of her voice, and ‘Falling Endlessly’ sees her drop with ease from a voice-cracking high-octave to a throaty lower register.


‘hover like a GODDESS’, one of the first singles released from the album, remains among its strongest tracks, with an infectious and dextrous beat that reaches an angelic pitch at its midpoint. Speaking to Kerrang!, WILLOW relates this track to feeling “like you’re in the midst of the anger and the confusion, but then you have these moments of touching a really beautiful part of yourself… and then you’re right back in the shit again.”


This kind of stuck-inside-your-own-head cyclicality also rears its head elsewhere on ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’‘No Control’, with its self-dissection of “Don’t want to see, don’t want to speak / forget to breathe, forget to be”, is a glimpse of unstable identity, navigating the delicate space between internal and external worlds. Meanwhile, album closer ‘BATSHIT!’ is a defiant rock track dizzy with insecurity-flecked rage, spinning around the chorus line, “Whatever you do, it better be true, it better be true”.


The presence of just one feature on the album - ‘Perfectly Not Close To Me’ with Yves Tumor – reaffirms its focus on the personal and intimate, but ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’ is also interested in pushing the boundaries of its artform. WILLOW is no rookie – she has been in the music business for over a decade – but her constantly evolving creativity sets her apart from anyone else.


Her fifth album is a fascinating incision into the complex mind of an artist who has been the subject of public scrutiny for her entire life. And as a creator, she’s only just beginning – especially if her vocalisation of the desire to create a “rock opera” to the audience at Reading and Leeds last month is any indication.


WILLOW hasn’t yet announced a tour for her new album but watch this space! In the meantime, you can pre-order ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’ ahead of its release on 7th October and get a taste of what’s to come by listening to the three promotional singles available to stream now. 

Eleanor Burleigh


Image: ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’ Official Album Cover

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