Search The Line of Best Fit
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Reneé Rapp confronts anxiety on the self-assured Snow Angel

"Snow Angel"

Release date: 18 August 2023
Renee Rapp Snow Angel cover
17 August 2023, 09:00 Written by Sam Franzini

TikTok’s music contributions skew towards anger.

On an app full of Gen-Z teens constantly thinking about climate change, relationships, or the, well, everything, happening right now, it’s no surprise pissed-off anthems like Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u”, newly released “vampire” or GAYLE’s “abcdefu” struck a chord. Even pop songs with a powerfully delivered chorus or bridge – Mimi Webb’s “Red Flags” or Taylor Swift’s sleeper hit “Cruel Summer” – are enough to take anger out on.

That’s where Reneé Rapp comes in – an intelligent songwriter turning the direction inward, towards herself. Her breakout “Too Well” soundtracked self-hatred upon seeing someone with a new partner: “I get so sick of myself,” she yells atop a pulsating beat on her 2022 EP Everything to Everyone.

Her debut full-length, Snow Angel, follows the same angst and pent-up energy that all pop songs must have, anxiety so explosive it results in some of the year’s best moments. The title track, cleverly picked as the album’s lead single, harbours the assurance “I’ll make it through the winter if it kills me,” eventually exploding into a stadium-ready outro. “I met a boy, he broke my heart,” she says, a lyric so simple it wouldn’t work anywhere else but in an emotion-driven scream. The aptly-titled “I Hate Boston” follows the same sonic pattern, documenting how one failed relationship can sour an entire location. “The whole thing is haunted,” she sings as the song builds into an inescapable crescendo.

Her astute writing – devastatingly funny, and shocking in a way Samia explored on her sophomore album Honey – comes into play several more times, particularly on the bossa nova “Poison Poison.” “Yes, I am a feminist,” she prefaces, “But bitch, you’re making it so hard for me to always be supporting all women.” The shock value – “is she… allowed to say that?” Twitter users might ask – is genuinely reflective of the undue hatred you might feel for someone existing. “Fuck you, you dumb bitch,” she ends. Another swing on the album is towards those who don a queer persona in the name of quirkiness – on “Pretty Girls,” she tells an experience knowing women who, after a couple of drinks, will kiss other women for fun, but forget about it the next morning. It’s easy to understand why Rapp, openly bisexual, disdains this sort of behaviour. “Keep on pretending, pretty girl,” she acknowledges through clenched teeth.

Snow Angel is also delicately tender when Rapp chooses to be. On its opening track, she examines her anxiety in relation to pseudo-obsessive-compulsive signs (“If I see a blue car today, we’ll probably have to break up”); on “Gemini Moon”, a similar track about dissonance, she admits, “I talk shit then I bite my tongue.” She pretends to be calm on “Tummy Hurts”, where she envisions a past partner’s lineage with a new family: “Someone’s gonna hurt their little girl like their daddy hurt me.” On the closing track, an ode to turning one year older, she laments that her birthday wish – to get better, in some intangible, encompassing way – remains the same.

Snow Angel is exuberant, hilarious (“I just want some recognition for having good tits and a big heart” is a standout line) and not afraid to go there. Rapp has big feelings, and she’ll let you know about it. It’s an oddly assured debut, tender and strong at the same time – and its greatest strength is that Rapp is as good of a songwriter as a performer of her own emotions.

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