#37 Stella Donnelly: Flood

I always… liked… Stella Donnelly. I literally first got into her because I liked the cover of her debut EP ‘Thrush Metal’ (and, yeah, the title, because – hurhurhurhurhur – geddit?), and it contained one of the most gorgeous and powerful indie ballads of recent times. That same song was included on her 2018 debut album, which was… good… Really good, in fact. Not amazing, but really good. I thought the cover of ‘Beware of the Dogs’ was an allusion to the wonderfully freaky 1924 novel ‘The Story of the Eye‘. I asked her about it on Twitter. She never got back to me. So fuck her, right?

‘Flood’ though, is on some real good shit. Firstly, it sees a talented young songwriter strive to make changes for their second album and not just introducing synthesizers! That alone is a notable achievement. Musically, Stella (Stellaaaaaaaa!) decided to centre songwriting around her piano playing rather than her acoustic guitar, and encouraged her bandmembers to similarly try instruments that they didn’t feel as comfortable with. This gives the album a much looser and less fastidiously tight sound to its predecessor, it sounds alive and almost improvised in places. The biggest change and improvement, however, comes with the lyrics. You know why? Yeah, that’s right, the spectre of Communism again, that’s why!

Donnelly’s lyrics were always her calling card, from her devastating Boys Will Be Boys (“Your father told you that you’re innocent/Told ya women rape themselves/Would you blame your little sister/If she cried to you for help?”) to witty takedowns like Old Man (“So have a chat to your friends ’cause it’s our words that will keep/Our daughters safe/Your personality traits don’t count if you put your dick/In someone’s face”), but on ‘Flood’ she wants to expand her ambitions and strive for safer conditions for far more people. How does it kick off? That’s right, with a song from the perspective of a child with deteriorating health because their landlord refuses to remove the asbestos in the house. Comrade Donnelly!

Stretching out the leather on your wallet
That my lungs are filling up
Long live the asbestos on the rental
Yeah, it looks alright to me

Throughout ‘Flood’ Stella is not just simply chiding people in positions of power (the ruling class, you could say. Shut up, I’ve decided that she’s a Communist and I’m going with it), but now narrating stories of people in positions of great impending doom that are nonetheless attempting to carry on regardless. The characters on ‘Flood’ are each that meme of the dog sitting inside a burning house, trying to convince the listener and themselves that everything is fine. OK, not always explicitly tackling the tilted dynamic between the landowners and their tenants. She also details abusive relationships that the abused has just had to learn to accept (“Is it a pipe dream/To want my children/Never to wake up/And hear women screaming?“), and other stories of people trying their fucking best to ignore the flood that will soon wash them all away. Like those dejected people I mentioned in my Mitski post, yeah? And what did I link that to? Communism!

Plus there’s a lovely and vulnerable song about her Granny dying, which I’ve struggled to link to my wider point… Only… You know who else had a Granny?? That’s right, Vladimir Lenin!!

Comrade Donnelly!

You are not big enough for my love
You are not big enough for my love
You are not big enough for my love
You are not big enough for my love
You are not big enough for my love
You are not big enough for my love

Cold

BandCamp

2019 #36

What?? So she’s actually dropped a place?? Man, fuck this list…

Metacritic: 79

2 thoughts on “#37 Stella Donnelly: Flood

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