Album Of The Week

Album Of The Week: Pouty Forgot About Me

Get Better
Get Better

Many years ago, I got stopped on the street in New York by a woman who wanted to talk about Slutever. I was wearing one of the band’s T-shirts — I can’t remember exactly what it looked like, though I’m pretty sure mucus and Tweety bird were involved. This woman did not want to talk to me about my Slutever, the sneering California-via-Philadelphia duo, but instead about the blog turned Vice show of the same name that would end up just as forgotten to time. I don’t really know why, but I think about this interaction most times that Slutever crosses my mind (more often than you’d think!), maybe because I feel like it’s unfair that more people didn’t know about them when they existed.

Though Slutever only released a handful of songs in the first half of the 2010s, I always thought that they could have been so much more. Their parting Almost Famous EP set itself apart in a sea of power-punk music, with sharp songwriting and mature themes that stood in opposition to the band’s cartoonish aesthetic. They made songs that rocked in style, with hooks that are just begging for some kid to stumble on them and make up a little dance that goes viral. Maybe that will happen eventually, but also who really cares because one-half of Slutever is still making the same kind of music, and her debut album is finally here.

Rachel Gagliardi started her solo project Pouty while she was still in Slutever, initially as a song-a-day project alongside Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner. As Slutever began to wind down, she released Pouty’s debut EP Take Me To Honey Island in 2016, channeling the same snotty aggression as her old band, sanded down by some fuzzier edges. Pouty’s output has been sporadic since then, only a couple of singles over the past eight years. For a time, Gagliardi played in Upset, the California group that featured Hole’s Patty Schemel and Vivian Girls’ Ali Koehler. (Slutever’s other half Nicole Snyder would also get involved with Upset by the time they put out their full-length debut in 2019.) But she was also putting in work on Pouty’s first album, which is called Forgot About Me — the implication, at least for me, being that Gagliardi’s music was not canonized in the way it might have deserved. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t matter. You should remember!

The album’s title is tucked into the lyrics of its opening track, “Salty,” a perfect little gem of a song that’s not so much about Gagliardi’s re-emergence as it is about a desire for revenge and vindication that haunts her like a ghost. “From where I stand there’s not a single thing to lose/ Except this rotten attitude,” she sings. “Then you say/ I’m the one to blame/ In spite of everything/ I’m in my own way.” “Salty” is massive, a pretty feint at the beginning that serves as a launching pad for a chorus that just rips. Gagliardi recorded the album with the Superweaks’ Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo as her backing band, and all three of them know their way around a hook, shaking with just enough fizziness so that when a song bursts it feels well-earned. Like on “Kill A Feeling,” which chugs along with distorted blown-out tension until its final seconds, when a breakthrough emerges in the form of a head-nodding riff that sounds like floating in air: “It makes me feel old in a good way/ Like I’m suddenly legitimate/ I’ve reached the very heart of it/ And I know how it feels.”

The accumulation of experience is a running theme on the album, as Gagliardi tries to hold on to that sensation of feeling “old in a good way” as she inevitably grows up. It seems right that Gagliardi would be fixated on this, making music that has such a youthful exuberance and yet is still weighed down by the fear that you’re never making enough of the time you’ve been given. “I feel older, but I haven’t done anything,” she sings on one song. And also: “The way you look makes me feel sick/ Because I realize I’m getting older too.” Though it didn’t end up on the album, I love Pouty’s one-off “Bambina” from a couple years ago, a song about the simple joys and overwhelming responsibilities of motherhood, delivered in a blissed-out haze: “The softest war is in your mind/ When the biggest enemy is the passing of time.”

Some of the best songs on Forgot About Me are the ones where Gagliardi lets herself live in her fantasies. The California love letter “TV On TV” is about emulating what she sees on the screen: “Escape out West where there’s TV on TV/ And you can feel your best, the way it oughta be.” And on “The Big Stage,” she sings about what drew her to wanting to be in a band in the first place, that earnest desire to feel larger than life. “I wanna play on the big stage/ Craving the crowds to know my name/ And I’ve been waiting/ Now I’m allowing myself to dream.” Forgot About Me is emboldened by this sort of energy — Gagliardi gives herself over to pure childlike excitement, when things were brighter and anything felt possible. She’s fueled by searing hooks and the awareness that life can be sunny, at least for a little while, if you let it. “What if you stopped standing in your own way?” she asks herself. “Don’t take it all so seriously/ And when will you realize/ You actually have something magical that you just want to say?” That’s more than a good enough reason to make an album, even if it took a little while to get there.

Forgot About Me is out 2/9 via Get Better Records. Pre-order it here.

Other albums of note out this week:
• Chelsea Wolfe’s She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She
• Brittany Howard’s What Now
• Ducks Ltd.’s Harm’s Way
• Madi Diaz’s Weird Faith
• Helado Negro’s Phasor
• Pylon Reenactment Society’s Magnet Factory
• Itasca’s Imitation Of War
• 1999 WRITE THE FUTURE’s hella (˃̣̣̥╭╮˂̣̣̥) ✧ ♡ ‧º·˚:
• David Nance’s David Nance And Mowed Sound
• Kali Malone’s All Life Long
• Split System’s Vol. 2
• The Dream Syndicate’s How Did We Find Ourselves Here?
• The Chisel’s What A Fucking Nightmare
• Dizzee Rascal’s Don’t Take It Personal
• Shitty Person’s Dignity
• Declan McKenna’s What Happened To The Beach?
• Royel Otis’ PRATTS & PAIN
• Zara Larsson’s VENUS
• The Strumbellas’ Part Time Believer
• Middle Sattre’s Tendencies
• Dhani Harrison’s INNERSTANDING
• Aureole’s Alunarian Bellmaster
• Loving’s Any Light
• Mean Jeans’ BLASTED
• Amiture’s Mother Engine
• Planet B’s Fiction Prediction
• Spectral Voice’s Sparagmos
• Joel Ross’ nublues
• Hulder’s Verses In Oath
• Morbid Saint’s Swallowed By Hell
• Theophonos’s Ashes In The Huron River
• The Dead South’s Chains & Stakes
• Infected Rain’s Time
• Jessica Mauboy’s Yours Forever
• The Pineapple Thief’s It Leads To This
• The Steel Wheels’ Sideways
• Nick Schofield’s Ambient Ensemble
• Mk.gee’s Two Star And The Dream Police
• Astral Bakers’s The Whole Story
• Nothing,Nowhere’s Dark Magic
• Thomas Bangalter’s DAAAAAALÍ soundtrack
• Este Haim & Christopher Stracey’s SUNCOAST (Original Soundtrack)
• The American Analog Set’s New Drifters box set
• Various Artists’s Songs Of The Clash – Hearts & Minds & Crooked Beats
• Shygirl’s Club Shy EP
• Hollow Suns’ Free Fall EP
• Mx Lonely’s Spit EP
• The Breath’s 道​理​な​き​憎​悪 Reasonless Hate EP

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