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nevermine

by
caroline
lazar

ghavin deonarain
Caroline Lazars debut EP, Nevermine is an impressive introduction to the talents of this Miami based singer-songwriter.
Nevermine is an exercise in quietly subverting conventions. It starts in a way that is familiar, which makes you com-
fortable and more open to the changes it takes down the line. In the places where the experiments are less prevalent,
Lazar holds your interest with frankly monstrous performances, pushing her vocal limits so that the album almost bleeds
emotion. Altogether this makes for a strong EP, one with enough familiarity to invite a listen but with enough of an
original spark to leave an impression. If youd like to listen while you read, Nevermine can be purchased/streamed
here: https://carolinelazar.bandcamp.com/album/nevermine-ep

The album opens up with the titular track, Nevermine. The song enjoys indulging itself in its own structure, spelling
out the beat with plucked guitar strings and then introducing more instrumentation within that set pattern. Thats a
pretty simple setup when it comes to arrangement, but Lazar recognizes the strength in a simple arrangement; build-up
becomes a natural extension of the arrangement and not an artificial constructions. The near three minute song breath-
lessly elevates itself to a major crescendo without relying on the tempo and pitch changes of the more conventional pop
tracks that its mimicking. Instead, the deliberate and confident paces uses pure volume and a strained vocal melody to
transition the track from subdued folk to frenetic pop. In fact, this seems to be Caroline Lazars greatest strength. Her
voice communicates raw emotion with ease through her high and strained pitches that feel wrung from the very bottom
of her lungs. The transparent emotional candor of her voice at the highest points of Nevermine pull double duty as
well, allowing the track to end on an almost unmelodic and quiet vocal line which gains poignancy by contrast.

Lullaby may be the weakest track on the album due to its more obvious inspirations, but Lazar manages to allow her
ingenuity to peek through by thematically forgiving the songs comparisons in arrangement. The slightly swinging guitar
is reminiscent of older pop girl groups (Im thinking of The Pierces) but the kitsch factor of this is somewhat lessened by
the more concretely folk vocal melodies. The exception to this is in the chorus where the vocals begin to fit more neatly
into the measures and interact with the instrumental in a more obvious way, following the same staccato rhythm as the
backing instrumental without any vocal flourish. However, the clue to understanding this conventionalism is in the this
critics least favorite part of any song; the lyrics. When Lazar sings about the
elephants pink tutus the tone of her voice becomes al-
most too cute, and when taking into account the conno-
tations that a certain large eared pachyderm has imbued
this image with the meaning behind the track becomes
clear. The singer is in an altered state of consciousness,
perhaps losing her mind, and packages her delusion in
the form of an easily digestible Lullaby. The song may
suffer for its cleverness, but its an appreciable effort Cold War closes out the EP, focusing on Caroline La-
nonetheless. zars vocal capabilities when she isnt relying on brutal
emotionalism. The vocal melody is meandering, in its
Following is Trigger, the standout track on the album resolutions and misleading you as to its direction in the
for the risks it takes with its melodic resolutions and way that most folk songs do. A standout feature of the
the consuming rage the song builds itself up to. The vocal melody in this song is the rising pitch and the last
thing that makes this song so addicting essentially comes lyric of the song preceding the outro which just barely
down to a single line, are you the trigger of the whole restrains itself from going off key. In that single lyric,
damn gun? The line frequently interrupts the progres- This Cold War/Is more than I bargained for, you can
sion of the melodic line in the verse, interjecting itself hear a young singer stretch herself to her absolute limit
and emphasizing the singers foul mood. In the same in an attempt to match her physical ability to what she
way that this line instantly transforms a flowing melody feels inside. Its a heartwarming moment and a strong
into a staccato one, the chorus builds itself with staccato promise for her career. However, the real star of this
synths. In fact I hesitate to call this the chorus as it occu- arrangement are the synths that dominate the majority
pies nearly the entire back half of the track, but it never of the track. With a fat low end and a bit of a shuffle in
feels strange that this is where the song ends up despite the beat, the bassline extends the auditory scope of this
its (again) more conventional opening. The build feels track well beyond its predecessors. Its augmented with
earned in the same way that it does on Nevermine, barely realized and repetitious high notes paired to an
constructed through slowly more emphatic playing and ambient tone tinged with a dark edge, lending the entire
volume. But possibly the most affecting thing about this composition an ethereal and darkly hypnotic feeling, one
track is the cracked vocals (once more repeating; are that whispers that everything isnt quite correct. Fitting
you the trigger of the whole damn gun?), on the verge arrangement for a song called Cold War.
of a scream, which communicate in its intensity the an-
ger and outrage the singer feels. This track can end The folk meets pop meets electronica philosophy that
big because it grew itself from a germ of an emotion, Caroline Lazar espouses is particularly appealing to us,
that seething but subterranean anger, to those feelings because of the fact that it allows her to proudly defy any
inevitable outburst. kind of genre-ing of her music. Thats the kind of stuff
that we live for at Cultureless.FM, its pretty much the
core philosophy behind all of the music we put up. And
while she may have some places to grow in distinguish-
ing some of her arrangements, that she should show
such inventiveness early in her career makes one hopeful
for her future.