There’s vulnerability in displaying your influences so comprehensively, as singer/songwriter Alyssa Thomas does on Fairy Godmother’s second official release “Spit it Out”. With this release Alyssa, along with Nick Tate, Conor Ryan, and John Heywood embrace the sounds of fellow bedroom pop stalwarts such as Frankie Cosmos and Soccer Mommy, adopting the bright guitars and low center of gravity this wave of 90s nostalgia has provided. Their previous EP, Attic Space, was laden with more sparse and experimental instrumentation, including synthesizers and acoustic guitars. On Spit it Out, they trade experimentation for a more traditional rock set up: drums, vocals, guitar, bass, etc.
The two and a half minute album opener “Invited” places Thomas right in the spotlight, as she sings “I’m being quiet / because I hate you” through thick reverb, before being buried underneath trebly guitars and a thick bass line. The song is anchored by a catchy lead guitar melody in the chorus, but due to an extra loud bass in the mix, the dynamic weight of that lead is slightly diminished. A loud, ringing guitar accompanies her as she declares “I’m better off on my own”, which acts as a sort of thesis statement for this EP, with other songs taking on the same subject.
Most of Spit it Out follows this same sonic format: bright guitars, loud bass, ringing leads. This becomes a problem as some songs fail to stand out from others. “Rock Star” is a very self-aware, Snail Mail motivated song which continues to nuzzle with her warm, nostalgia rock influences, but ultimately contains no other elements that make it feel unique or more memorable than anything else. The song’s traditional, gentle indie guitar melody provides the sonic memory of titans like Liz Phair and her particular brand of warm 90s indie rock. Spit it Out explores a unique voice, but “Rock Star”, for all of its sonic worth, seems to retreat into Thomas’s bed of influences and fails to really stand out on its own.
The dream pop “Happy Man” feels exactly like that new wave of 90s nostalgia, the kind that recontextualizes campy melodies and bright guitar riffs into something unmistakably modern. She joins her bedroom pop contemporaries in writing melancholy lyrics underneath that shiny guitar & bass sheen. There’s also some sweet Ray Manzarek keyboard work that leads the track out, the cool organ tone sounding smooth overtop of the sharp, trebly guitars and drums.
Things pick up again with album standout “Take Me”, on which not only does Thomas play with a more interesting and dynamic (nearly shoegazey!) sound, the mixing and overall production seems to improve as well. Her writing also becomes more visceral; “Aching, chewing on your mouth / I wanna see it when you spit it out” takes her voice out from underneath the quilted guitars and provides the listener with a bodily reaction, something corporeal to identify with rather than emotional. “Take Me” is a return to the bold side of Thomas’s songwriting that we saw briefly on “Invited”, as she puts herself in the driver’s seat, saying “I don’t cry for you ‘ cause you want me to”.
Fairy Godmother is at its best when they try on something bold. Closing track “Goodbye” finds Thomas in a declarative sentence, putting a definitive end to a harmful past relationship. The guitars that soar around her voice offer less of a Hop Along mirage and more of what could one day be defined as the “Fairy Godmother” sound. With a combination of their latest sound and the sonic identity they began to explore on Attic space , there’s deep potential for Fairy Godmother to achieve something beyond their influences, as Spit it Out finds the band peeking out from the reserved, into something resembling the spotlight.
- Clever & emotional lyricism
- Talented players across the board
- Full of layered and textured songs
- Very sonically repetitive
- Bass was a little too high and drums are a little too quiet, very uneven mixes & mastering
- At times is too much a product of its influences