One of the central reasons for my sporadic blog posts is my OCD. I feel best when I publish on a date with a seven in it, okay if it is a multiple of seven, awful if it ends in any other odd number. Counting is an integral part of my intake of my surroundings; patterns usher structure, structure ushers control. I like to think that I am not a controlling person, but my running tally of the number of syllables in this paragraph suggests otherwise. Everything Tastes Bad, the debut EP from Snowhore, has a sparkling haze about it that I could never quite quantify. My instincts to quantify the bass drum slams, to count syllables, to walk my fingers up and down the scales, they eased as I first lived in this record. It is music as respite, as funhouse mirror, as assuaging pain with understanding.
As I have written about the artists I love for Headlight Spirits, I have thought a lot about Taylor Mac’s indelible proclamation: “Comparison is violence.” I do not want to deflate the saline, vaporous world that Snowhore constructs over these sixteen minutes by levying comparisons at them, by hyping them up as an amalgamation and not a unique entity. They are not “the new Courtney Barnett,” or the “new Remember Sports,” or the new anything, but if either of these musicians have made anything that you enjoy, know that Snowhore explores similar crevasses of the human psyche and you are doing yourself a disservice by not seeking them out. However, Veronica Isley’s songwriting not only cuts deep, but cuts in such a way as to suggest that she has forged a knife completely of her own.
It is difficult to think about Everything Tastes Bad in highlights, as it acts so cohesively as its own holistic narrative, but I would be remiss if I did not write about the unyielding power of “Gwynnie.” The melody surfs the lilts of a children’s song, something a parent might sing to a little one as a prayer disguised within a promise. When I learned that the song is focused on Isley’s relationship with her younger sister, I felt an overwhelming sense of closeness to it. I know what it is to have a younger sister for whom you cannot be all that you wish to be. I know what it is to disappoint, and I know what it is to be forgiven. And Isley, rather than descending into the obsessive ocean that is control as penance, glides above the mix, presenting actions and stories without judgment. It is in the small turns of phrase that Everything Tastes Bad transcends; near the end of “Field of Dreams,” Isley delivers one of my favorite lines in recent memory. “There’s nothing wrong with what you want / Or don’t.” She is empathetic to herself across this EP, harsh without turning to self-flagellation, loving without turning to self-indulgence. Peaceful. I am very grateful for the peace that Snowhore’s music has gifted me. The final lyric of the record is the one that will likely stay with me the longest, preserving a fickle kind of discontentment that I know too well; it is not unhappiness, but it is not quite happiness either. It is restlessness at the expense of restfulness. It is the void of peace that music like Snowhore’s fills.
“Aren’t we alive / With all of that free will / Maybe when I’m older / I will know how to be still”
Snowhore is the Philadelphia-based project of Veronica Isley, KT Della Monica (No Thank You), and Greg Mendez. Everything Tastes Bad was recently reissued through Devil Town Tapes and is available for purchase on Bandcamp. Stream the EP on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud. Follow Snowhore on Instagram.