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

Experience Indigo De Souza in remarkable clarity on Any Shape You Take

"Any Shape You Take"

Release date: 27 August 2021
Album of the week
Indigo De Souza Any Shape You Take artwork
23 August 2021, 07:00 Written by Ben Lynch
Indigo De Souza doesn’t believe in obfuscation. The first single from Any Shape You Take, “Kill Me”, isn’t employing shock factor to discuss a topic less macabre. It’s a call for her lover to end De Souza’s life in the confidence that they would follow her into the unknown, a desire fuelled by vast, debilitating passion and a desperation to get out. It’s also probably the best single released so far in 2021.

De Souza’s directness comes as no shock. Her debut, I Love My Mom, was a resolutely honest record with little time for riddles, aiming instead to translate De Souza’s experience with vivid clarity. Given she has described Any Shape You Take as a “companion piece”, it’s unsurprising that the new record continues along a similar track, with songs often sounding more like diary entries than edited works. “Kill Me”, for example, was initially recorded as a stream-of-consciousness on De Souza’s webcam back in 2018, testament to the unfiltered relationship between her life and her art. To listen to her music is to first and foremost feel. When De Souza sings “I’d rather die than see you cry” on the garage-rock “Die/Cry”, there’s no second-guessing her intent. Her love is so encompassing it becomes sacrificial, nothing more, nothing less.

As is alluded to by the record’s title, De Souza’s confessional lyrics are paired with a shifting and restless sound on Any Shape You Take. In a divergence from the indie-punk of I Love My Mom, De Souza feels no obligation to abide by, well, anything, fearlessly leading her musical troupe down numerous unexpected avenues, with the sole intention of eliciting as much raw emotion as possible. Exploring the crushing, haunting helplessness of nightmares and insomnia? Easy, opt for a dense stoner riff and gothic vocal performance, as on “Bad Dreams”. However, if you’re wanting to communicate the sweet obsession of teenage love, look to the sort of saccharine indie-pop Hellogoodbye and Owl City deployed, which is exactly what De Souza does on opener “17”. She has commended her team for following her to what may appear unnatural ends, but the ambition sits solely with De Souza. Her dissolution of restrictions is inspired and inspiring, not a random amalgamation of sounds, but a pure expression of the experience.

For much of Any Shape You Take, that experience is one of love. Not the love of cute dates and effortless commitment, but the kind that rewires your entire life, a messy collision of extremes that is dependent on a blind commitment to its necessity. “Way Out” straddles the desperation and frustration of being unable to save someone you love, with the immovable want to believe that you still can. “Pretty Pictures” is similarly conflicted, as De Souza accepts the ending of a relationship is in her best interest, yet struggles with what makes sense versus what feels right as she laments “it’s so hard to give it up”. These kinds of paradoxes appear throughout the record, finding their most abrasive form on “Real Pain”. Following a burgeoning intro, in which De Souza contemplates the loss of love over a simple guitar/drums backing, the track devolves into a maelstrom of screams, yells and static, before closing in soaring indie fashion. Redolent of the unease and the unknown inherent in, and occasionally defining, relationships, in particular breakups, “Real Pain” is De Souza most realised, as experience and performance become intrinsically linked.

Any Shape You Take is a record about heartbreak and despair. But it’s also more than that. It encompasses the extremes of human emotion, as De Souza shoots back and forth across the divide like a pendulum in full swing. The tender adoration of “Hold U”, on which she heavily channels HAIM’s smooth optimism, is a mere gear change away from the resignation at the start of “Way Out”. In De Souza’s eyes, they’re all connected, if at opposite ends of the board. Any Shape You Take attempts to connect the dots, unafraid of expressing the depths nor the heights of a life lived with supreme sensitivity. As she sees it, if we're to empathise, we need to go there with her; to know what she knows, first we have to feel what she feels.

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