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Haley Blais wears Wisecrack's heart on her sleeve


Release date: 15 September 2023
Haley Blais Wisecrack cover
13 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Lana Williams

On Wisecrack, Vancouver-based Haley Blais is back with a textured,synth-laden, and highly poetic new project.

After shooting to fame with 2018’s sophomore EP Let Yourself Go – and most notably – its closing track, the intense and folk-infused “Seventeen”, Blais’ discography has only grown richer and more full-bodied, as is wholly evidenced in this new album.

Encapsulated by themes such as conscience, morality, and the “super-ego”, Wisecrack holds up a mirror to society as Blais questions Am I a good person or not? Are we all doing okay? Am I a good daughter? Sister? Partner? Friend?”. Speaking on the development of this album, she confesses: “Writing this album made me feel self-actualised – it’s like my Pinocchio moment – I feel real.”

Dynamic and self-depreciating, the album commences with “Soft Spot For Monarchs” which delves into a narrative of lacking sensitivity and only feeling empathy and mercy when it comes to small creatures. Noted as feeling “Very Patti Smith” by Blais, the album opener delves quickly into eerie instrumentation and folksy guitar lilts that the singer has become a staple for. In direct contrast to this theme, however, is the sophomore cut “Survivor’s Guilt”.

Steeped in emotion and deeply personal, this track dotes on the death of the family dog and is completely encapsulated by mourning – “God, what a mess I must seem / In the back of a theatre / The scene where the dog has to die”. The poignancy of the track is elevated by breezy instrumentation and soft vocals in a rich sonic tapestry interweaved with the inevitability of loss.

Swooping over the melancholy “Coolest fucking bitch in town” and the touching “Reset Button”, “Matchmaker” showcases Blais’ versatility. Exploring the early stages of a relationship through lush vocals and a punchy, subdued percussive beat, she delves into traditional social constructs ("And I read somewhere on the internet / That if we have kids, then they won't exist / And then I'm the bitch who ruined your family line") and the fears and anxieties that accompany (“What's in a person if we're nothing but dust?”).

“The Cabin” – arguably the heaviest track on the album (by Blais standards) – is the sonic encapsulation of nostalgia and the revisiting of childhood memories. Hazy and dazing, “The Cabin” is as much a sensory journey as it is auditory, breaking free from the soothing soundscape only for the brief interludes of rip-roaring guitars. Carrying on with reminiscing, “Body” offers a tongue-in-cheek narrative of being stuck forever in a reboot of your favourite teenage TV show.

Bringing the Wisecrack journey to a close is “Beginner’s guide to birdwatching”. Eerie and dominated by synth-laden vocals, the finale, which started as a voice-note of the family singing to her newborn niece, developed and evolved into a spirited exploration of new beginnings – the perfect end to a melancholic and insightful record.

Wholly confessional, Blais wears her heart on her sleeve and delves into both her conscience, alongside questioning that of society, and gracefully delivers a record drenched in rich melodies and infectious folk-pop.

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