Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

The Rot is Abby Sage's journal of self-discovery

"The Rot"

Release date: 01 March 2024
Abby Sage The Rot cover
01 March 2024, 09:10 Written by Matt Young

The melodically strummed guitar of “Milk” sweetly saunters along as Abby Sage drops the prettily sung lyrics “I wanna drink my milk in my own filth / I wanna dress my body in silver silk / Just hold my hand”.

It’s simultaneously evocative, defiant, and welcoming if you’re someone with an accepting nature. The even-keeled delivery and tone neatly sets out the artist's stall from the beginning. There are hints of nostalgia, memories, feeling homesick, and gratitude for openness and freedom growing up, showing little room for compromise at times we nevertheless need to move on.

Indeed, Sage probes and questions her innermost thoughts and feelings as The Rot progresses. The album is peppered with childhood references and highlights the emotional layers isolation, relationships, sex, growing up, and independence can bring. All explored with a lens focused on herself and backed by kaleidoscopically dreamy, lush synth and guitar melodies.

Just because the scrutiny can be intense and raw doesn’t mean there’s not also a fair amount of wit and self-depreciation on display too. On “Hunger” Sage emotes, “I’m watching porn on my phone just to test what I know / Don’t do it a lot just collect every piece that I’m taught” before confessing to “Feed my hunger / No shame / I’m just a beginner”. It’s an honest account sung with silky vocals and a hooky melody that draws you in for a clandestine listen changing the intensely personal and private into a shared experience.

The occasionally dislocated viewpoint in her songs comes not only from the shift in emotional perspective but also from location. She upped stakes from Los Angeles to London, reconnecting with her mother's side of the family, and recording physically displaced from her memories.

Getting philosophical and poetic on “Soak” she imagines herself in nature washed and tumbling around like a pebble or raindrop in a cloud. A tiny speck, an insignificant part of a collective. Passive, unnoticed and unheard. It could be depressing were it not for the casual, poppy vibe and series of nursery rhyme “Do do do’s” that lift the mood.

“Obstruction” seems to deal with relationship issues, “Obstruction / In my living room / Your hair stuck in my vacuum / Cut it out with a knife.” The almost passive-aggressive and internalised swallowing of a pain left unfaced. Drip-fed hurting. But again sung with a light ethereal voice rather than anything resembling anger, perhaps with curiosity which is an interesting and even dismissive take. Musically the song does descend into a tormented maelstrom of whirling strings for a brief moment but that is seemingly cast aside almost as soon as it begins.

For all the introspection the album can fall into the realm of listening, only half interested, in someone retelling a rather lengthy dream. There may be spots that resonate and perk you up but on the whole, the inherently personal nature can feel disconnected. Abby Sage chronicles her reflections with care and curates recollections and feelings like exhibits in a gallery. You examine, reflect, and admire the artistry but there are few opportunities to grab hold of anything substantial so you move on. That may be appropriate though, the overriding theme of The Rot appears to be that change is inevitable. As the album closes with the eponymous track Sage is resigned “Lean into the rot / Nap between the noise / Fester like the fruit / You pass by out the door” but swiftly the table turns and she’s free, “My bed is never made / I know what I’m not / One foot out the grave / Leaving from the rot.”

Finally, she has torn down and reconstructed her narrative. Childhood, growing up is fixed to a past that’s been dealt with, to some extent at least and the introspection has opened up a path to venture forward.

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