Since 2015, Katie Alice Greer has launched solo music as KAG. Then she realized her Twitter algorithm was flooded with MAGA content material: Seems KAG can also be brief for “Hold America Nice.” The grossly ironic overlap highlighted one cause why Greer has adamantly resisted describing her music as “political.” The whole lot is political; the phrase’s worth as a descriptor has misplaced its efficiency. Greer acknowledges that our vocabulary hasn’t developed as quick as circumstances have deteriorated. However her music melts the parable of American order right into a sizzling waxy soup. Her debut solo album, Barbarism, casts a bleary but charged gaze on latest historical past. These 11 songs really feel caught between actuality and nightmare.
As the previous lead singer of Washington, D.C. punky-tonk group Monks, Greer is understood for sharply polemical phrases delivered with a bratty wail or an operatic howl. However on Barbarism she sounds possessed. It’s unnerving how calm she is over the noisy drone of “Faux Nostalgia,” the place she sings about “an easier time” and “a way of certainty that was by no means mine.” Her chilling composure stands out, harnessing the mindset of these fixated on going again, whether or not to a pre-pandemic regular or an antebellum fantasy. The distinction between the commercial background and her rose-tinted vocals illustrate the futility of trying to the previous whereas the current is on fireplace. Regardless of her brainwashed tone, Greer is making an attempt to flee the lure: “I don’t wish to return to some previous life,” she sings. She’s calling from an alternate dimension, making an attempt to interrupt by means of a Twilight Zone mirage.
This excessive pivot from Monks’ serrated rockabilly-punk isn’t new for Greer; she’s already penned throbbing industrial digital music about Diana Ross and lo-fi surf grunge impressed by the 1947 movie Black Narcissus. “FITS/My Love Can’t Be,” the brand new album’s paranoid opener, is the closest Greer involves hooky post-punk right here. “There’s been quite a lot of speak about what occurs once we sleep,” she broadcasts within the opening line. Later, she mentions surveillance and police informants. Possibly Greer doesn’t imply literal sleep in any respect, however the act of wanting away: from the theft of non-public knowledge, the rise of citizen policing, or the erosion of privateness. Warped steam engine drums transition right into a twister of percussion—a stampede’s rumble, sonar pings, a tinny alarm, marimba patters, as confused and overstimulated as life within the 24-hour information cycle. Her voice is sharp, nearly cheeky as she sings: “A spectator sport and extra popcorn once you’re bored.” Sadly, that fascinating, acerbic tone doesn’t reappear elsewhere on the album.