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Blondshell demands overdue respect on “Sepsis”, daring to lean into life’s imperfections

18 August 2022, 14:45 | Written by Thomas Turner

The production of Blondshell’s latest indie-rock single "Sepsis" is highly infectious, slinking between delicate catharsis and unrelenting intensity, as her confessional lyricism is healing in its honesty.

Whilst "Sepsis" may be a track concerned with demanding the respect you deserve, it doesn’t seem like Blondshell (Sabrina Teitelbaum) is currently short of currency in that regard amongst indie rock circles. In fact, just three singles into her newly realised and repackaged sound, her empowering confidence, masterfully melodramatic production, and unabashedly honest lyrical perspective have already paved the way for industry buzz to be exchanged for the promise of long-term success.

Born in New York and currently L.A.-based, Blondshell has always relied on the comforting confessional nature of musical legends like Tracy Chapman and Patti Smith to orientate her through the chaotic hubbub of the city; coming to terms with her queerness, and finding her feet in young adulthood. With her major influences oscillating between the whimsy of Imogen Heap and Elliott Smith, and the experimentation of Joy Division and The Velvet Underground, Blondshell has firmly stepped into the shoes of her predecessors, incorporating styles to find her own sonic niche. That is, a brand of indie-rock that is both thoroughly cinematic in its authoritative nostalgia, but also composed in its distinctive slinkiness.

It is, however, one artist in particular that lends their inspiration to "Sepsis", and its production that wavers between moments of quiet introspection and intense release. Blondshell explains, “in the thick of COVID, I became obsessed with Hole’s song ‘Doll Parts’ and it inspired me to write something cathartic and pissed. I wrote ‘Sepsis’ as a way of getting anger out – anger towards people who have treated me as if I didn’t deserve very much care and anger towards myself for accepting that treatment.”

Indeed, "Sepsis" is a track driven by a totally naked - and at times, near confrontational – honesty. Where this could otherwise be seen as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, Blondshell instead finds strength and stability by dauntlessly leaning into that which scares her. This alone comes across in the track’s unseating opening line, “I’m going back to him, I know my therapist’s pissed.” What she initially presents as a potentially poor decision, she later subverts, stating she understands she must “clarify what she deserves” in their relationship before proceeding.

“I wanted to create some accountability with this song and also sing about the counterproductive nature of trying to outrun loneliness. Most importantly I wanted to give myself permission to be as dramatic as possible and say aloud that I’m afraid bad feelings might actually kill me,” Blondshell confesses.

"Sepsis" thus becomes a track about throwing inhibitions at the wall and seeing where things stick. “He wears a front-facing cap, the sex is almost always bad, I don’t care cause I’m in love,” she anthemically chants before letting out a transcendent scream – an outpouring of emotion that feels necessary and stabilising. Declaring that this “love,” like sepsis, is going to hurt all at once and likely kill her, she righteously invites it in anyway. Rather than shying away from typically considered irrationalities or imperfections, Blondshell finds catharsis in revelling in them, empowering listeners to join her in the plight.

The single’s accompanying music video highlights a similar penchant for doing the atypical or unexpected, collaging together a series of unassuming moments that capture the beauty of just being. A ‘Beware of Dog’ sign hangs ironically behind her and her pet, playfully dolled up in a bandana; she picks at the berries that overhang the sidewalk, a cautionary tale that parents often warn against; and she does the macarena on stage, knowingly smiling at the gleeful randomness of the act.

By declaring her worth and demanding the respect she deserves on "Sepsis", Blondshell makes space to live honestly and uncaged. This is a wholly infectious approach to life, embracing all of its ripples, grooves, and cracks head-on, rather than shying away from that frequently warned against. As such, she becomes a personable voice that we hope to commentate on all of the irregularities in our own lives. Luckily, if this recent string of singles is anything to go by, we’re sure a long career of doing just that awaits Blondshell.

"Sepsis" is out now. Find Blondshell on Instagram and catch her live at The Lower Third on 26 September.

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