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Julien Baker Little Oblivions

Julien Baker unearths the trials of a wunderkind songwriter and the demons of recovering alcoholics on new album Little Oblivions.


Released: 26 February 2021
Little Oblivions

“You can either watch me drown / or try to save me as I drag you down”, sings Julien Baker on ‘Ringside’, almost picked as the album opener but still as good as any track to disambiguate the album through. Here, like elsewhere on the record, she sings of the shame that comes with being a burden on your loved ones – in other words, the guilt that comes with being guilty.

One-third of the indie supergroup boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, Baker hasn’t yet had her moment in the spotlight the way the other two have. On Little Oblivions, she impresses as she introduces a throbbing, louder and altogether rockier world of slapping bass and booming guitars. The venom in her lyrics forge some of the barest images anyone in emo has ever sung: “I’ll wrap Orion’s belt around my neck and kick the chair out”. After a 2019 relapse, her travails are all the more compelling and raw.

The pacing of these songs is built on anticipation and third acts. Often they’ll begin with questing chords and piano keys that build up softly until a cloudy avalanche of drums and warbly synths cascades over the edge into a shrieking, confessional bridge. Because Baker dangles these sounds in front of you they land with a chilling, operatic effect, catapulting her work up to the ceiling and mirroring the devastating snowball of the addictive gene. She enlists some angelic choir work on tracks like ‘Crying Wolf’ and the voices of both Bridgers and Dacus on the thudding melody of ‘Favor’, topping off what's already her most exciting and cinematic work to date.