REVIEW: Kamikaze Girls' "Seafoam"

 via  Bandcamp

Seafoam opens with stray synth-inspired chords as Kamikaze Girls’ lead vocalist and guitarist Lucinda Livingstone laments, “One young man / put a gun to my head / held me down/ and took my possessions” a brief silence follows, then a literal wave of feedback, drums, and guitars floods the one’s listening device of choice. The bridge of “One Young Man,” is imbued with the raw instrumentation of an early Garbage or L7 track, remnants of riot grrrl resurfacing in 2017.

It’s clear from the opening note of this record that the Kamikaze Girls are done holding back — both lyrically and instrumentally. Their sound grew in the time between the release of Seafoam and their E.P. SAD, it became more expansive, whatever timidity that SAD have possessed is gone, and a brash, confident sound is now firmly in its place.

“Berlin” perfectly showcases this newfound confidence, the drums and guitars charge forward as Livingstone sings, “I feel like I’m having a heart attack/ and I can’t breathe.” One of the things that I’ve always appreciated about Kamikaze Girls is their openness and honesty when discussing mental health. Rather than relying on distant metaphors to express anxiety, Livingstone places the listener directly into her own experience. The chorus segues into the anxiety driven mantra of, “And I know now/ that I wasn’t cut out for this/ I know now that I couldn’t exist/ in a concentrated city.”

The hardcore edge of “Berlin” is softened by the slightly poppier next track, “Teenage Feelings,” which somehow manages to act as a quarter-life crisis and a windows-down summer jam, bolstered by upbeat drums.

“KG goes to the pub,” is a reclamation, with scathing guitars and pounding drums, and a brave spirit that defies a culture of casual misogyny and slut shaming. It acts as a “fuck you” to every cat-caller or gross guy who had the gall to hit on someone at a bar when they are just trying to have fun. Yet, it also articulates the ever-present anxiety that one experiences in a public space after they have been cat-called or harassed, but that doesn’t lessen the defiant spirit of the song as Williams howls, “I’ll knock your fucking lights out.”

It’s tough to pick a favorite track with Seafoam, but as a fellow, “nervous millennial,” “Deathcap” remains dear to me. It’s an exploration of societal dismissal of millennial anxieties, shifting perceptions of mental health, and a smattering of existential dread.  The track starts with a solid wave of feedback, shifting into a tumultuous riff that drives the song forward at breakneck speed. It’s a song that I find myself returning too when I also feel anxious, a sort of touchstone.

Overall, this record presents a vivid, empathetic understanding of personal and societal pressures. It’s a record that has the capacity to empower the listener to fight back, whether it’s against a cat-caller or their own sense of self doubt. The final track on the record is a new-wave esque ballad called, “ I don’t want to be sad forever.” In it, Livingstone offers the impassioned plea, “We need to fix this together/ and we need to fix this now.” It’s true, Seafoam is a record that recognizes emotional dualities, but it also recognizes that there’s no need to go it all alone. You can lean on your friends, you can stand up for what you believe in, and even if it seems like it now, you won’t be sad forever.