Liv.e is a visual learner by nature, able to let loose and enjoy the process of making music divorced from external expectations. This free interpretation fuels the esoteric soundscapes on her previous work F.R.A.N.K., Couldn’t Wait To Tell You…, and now her sophomore album Girl In The Half Pearl.
On Girl In The Half Pearl, Liv.e clashes drum & bass with stacked harmonies, goes full techno to a fuck-haters rant, and fills bottomless voids with reverb’d screams to compile a montage of frequencies. “I’m finally in a place to talk my shit with a new mindset of being able to say what’s on my heart,” she told Matthew Ritchie for Rolling Stone. It’s not like the 25-year old L.A. native hasn’t opened her diary to the world before. But unlike on prior projects, she’s not interested in moseying around in romance…she’s tired of discussing the subject. Girl In The Half Pearl is more brash than her previous entries, exploring the dark, hidden parts of her heart to examine her inner turmoil.
Liv.e jumps into a rabbit hole of unhinged thoughts on opener “Gardetto.” The drum & bass hastily scat around much like the chaotic discord in her mind. Dial tones pass for alien signals alongside Liv.e’s robo-cadence singing, “I despise all these thoughts of mine they won’t let me sleep.” “Gardetto” is a statement opener, and a jagged detour from the frothy dream state of CWTTY. “Chop my head off I wanna/Roll my eyes back/Don’t wanna see what time sent,” she opens “RESET!”, emphasizing words in a peculiar manner. “RESET!” embodies Liv.e’s contempt with the violence and pain of the world, finding a semblance of solace in herself.
Throughout the album, Liv.e thematically weaves the concepts of womanhood and honest expression in a world that prioritizes neat, clean and easily understood motifs. For Liv.e and those who can relate, that could look like a mental break down above drum crashes and electric guitar riffs on indie rock number “Clown” or daydreaming about what could’ve been as ringing synths and helicopter propeller effects sound off on “Find Out.” Maybe it’s feeling bold after receiving a heart-racing voicemail on the sensual number “Slumber Party” or keeping calm and composed while experimental ballad “Lake Psilocybin” plays in the trunk. Through these differing styles, Liv.e projects her journey through womanhood with a sonic and visual narrative.
Her interviews and live performances show how ambiguous Liv.e’s creative process is. She only plays around with one sample on “Our Father,” a looming, infectious rendition of Helen Baylor’s “If It Had Not Been for the Lord on My Side,” a clear highlight on Girl In The Half Pearl. To achieve this homegrown effect, she admits to OkayPlayer the need to pause and observe the inspiration around her: “And also, just sitting still. N***s hate sitting still.” In contrast to the drum & bass-heavy single “Ghost,” interlude tracks like “Snowing”, “Six Weeks” and instrumental “Back Alley” give listeners poetic pauses where Liv.e refrains from using no more than ten lines to convey what the jazzy, mystical instrumentals cannot.
Girl In The Half Pearl emits confidence despite being out of bounds for the average musically unconscious listener. Liv.e makes it clear she’s not here for external approval, often stepping to her approach with humility and zero intentions to gain praise or fame. Her delivery on Girl In The Half Pearl features dynamic octave changes, futuristic pitch shifts, and underground jazz infusions that speak for themselves and create a theatrical performance of the various characters that lie within her.
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