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

Blondshell is relentlessly confessional on her debut record


Release date: 07 April 2023
Blondshell album art
04 April 2023, 09:00 Written by Caleb Campbell

Though she has long been active on the indie pop circuit, Sabrina Teitelbaum released her debut single as Blondshell only last year.

That lead single – “Olympus” – introduced the foundations of the project’s songwriting: diaristic confession, caustic lyricism, and 90s alt-rock hooks in the vein of bands like Hole. Since that first single, she’s quickly become an exciting rising star on the indie scene, releasing a series of tracks all leading up to her debut self-titled record. Those who have been listening likely know the contours of the record going in, especially since five of its nine tracks have already been released as singles. Still, it’s a testament to the songwriting on display that Teitelbaum largely delivers on the hyped promise of her debut.

The album opens in explosive fashion with the grunge-tinged edges of “Veronica Mars”, which quickly builds from a tense, thrumming opening into a searing guitar-laden finale. Those quiet-loud builds that once were a staple of alt-rock radio come out in full force throughout the record, delivering captivating bursts of angst, anger, and longing on tracks like “Kiss City” and “Tarmac”. Meanwhile, other tracks find Teitelbaum crafting tightly written pop-rock gems. “Sepsis” and “Salad” layer on the sharp hooks and biting lyrics in equal measure, while the sun-dappled sheen of “Joiner” makes for a gentler sonic detour, full of crystalline beauty.

The record feels thoroughly steeped in these 90s influences, evoking Gen X’s generational touchstones like Live Through This and Exile in Guyville. However, Teitelbaum avoids sounding like a mere imitator. She isn’t simply trying on an aesthetic but instead finding where her songwriting voice lies. Before Blondshell, Teitelbaum had been building momentum under the moniker Baum, leaning far more heavily into the indie pop zeitgeist of the pre-pandemic years. In contrast, the songs on Blondshell came together during the lockdown era, when Teitelbaum had the chance to retreat inward, reconnect with her musical roots, and make the music she truly wanted to hear.

If there is a single throughline that connects Baum and Blondshell, it is Teitelbaum’s talent for searing and brutally honest lyrics. As an album, Blondshell is relentlessly confessional, full of moments of unflinching self-examination and withering fury. Through much of the album, Teitelbaum is angry – at herself, at her partners, at patriarchy, and at men writ large. She leads the listener through a dense maze of complicated emotions, exorcising her hurt, fear, and anger in songs that feel like a glimpse into the thoughts that keep her up at night.

She sneers on “Sepsis”, “He wears a front-facing cap / The sex is almost always bad / I don’t care cause I’m in love / I don’t know him well enough / What am I projecting / He’s gonna start infecting my life / It’ll hit all at once / Like sepsis.” Elsewhere, “Sober Together” reflects on watching someone you love get pulled back into addiction, while “Kiss City” deals with the desire to be desired, finding witty poetry in Teitelbaum’s longing (“Kiss city / I think my kink is when you tell me that you think I'm pretty”). Finally, the record closes with the shimmering balladry of “Dangerous,” encapsulating the record’s themes in a final confession: “And it’s so dangerous forming an attachment to something / Now that every time I love it might pull the rug out / And I know when I leave the house / Anything can take me down.”

As Teitelbaum has described, Blondshell was written in the midst of a particularly painful and chaotic era for her. Songwriting acted as her lifeline, and years later she was left with Blondshell, the album she has said she always wanted to make. More than any sing-along chorus, that personal touch and sense of relentless honesty are what shine through most on the record. It is the sound of an artist finally getting to let loose and say the things that have stayed locked up inside for too long. In turn, Teitelbaum offers an exciting introduction to a talented songwriter and a thoroughly rewarding debut.

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