WASTEISOLATION is the first release from Black Dresses, a collaboration between Girls Rituals and Rook, two Canadian musicians that skirt the line between noise and pop. Their debut album together is brash and catchy and agonizing and really, really great. The songs are made up of towers of static and teeth-chattering beats and the dynamic poles of its two members, Dizzy and Rook, who spit venom and salve in equal measure. On “Thoughts And Prayers,” a highlight from its midsection, they twist the phrase that politicians love to throw out in the wake of a tragedy and turn it into a embittered rallying cry. “Leave us alone/ We don’t wanna fucking hurt anyone/ We just wanna feel anything before we’re done,” they chant.
The album is the sound of two artists using their music as a way to deal with trauma and what it means to exist and keep on existing, turning that into noxious industrial pop that’s possible to dance to, or at least writhe around in unison with. I love the opening track, “Doorway,” an introduction to the outsider feeling that inhabits the rest of the album. It’s about never feeling fully a part of something, standing on the sidelines without being invited in: “Born inside a doorway/ Lived inside a doorway/ Took a shit inside a doorway.”
A lot of the songs feel extraterrestrial in nature, subsumed by a desire to get taken over by something bigger than yourself, possessed by a feeling that’ll just make everything alright. “It could wear your skin/ It could dig right in/ It could go inside of you,” Dizzy sings at the end of the second track. On the penultimate track, “Wound,” Rook sings about an assault: “I remember trusting you/ Now that’s something I don’t think that I could ever do,” she sings. “The truth is I don’t want to know what happened to me/ Just wanna kill all the memories of those years.”
The songs bubble and break with rage, but there’s also a lot of humor underneath. There are bouts of bratty confidence, underlying a more general sense of displacement. “They tried to push me down/ But I just wiggled around until they couldn’t hold me,” Dizzy sings on one of them, soon followed by: “I’m so sorry I’m here/ Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me/ I’m so sorry I’m here.” That back-and-forth struggle should be familiar to anyone who identifies as queer: the pull between just wanting to exist and not wanting to die. That’s the experience that WASTEISOLATION captures best, in all its grotesque and beautiful glory.
WASTEISOLATION is out now.