On Katie Crutchfield’s third LP as Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp – she further perfects her craft for writing powerful pop songs in nice neat packages. The average song on the wonderful new LP clocks in around right under 3 minutes. Cruthfield does not waste a note and maximizes each song to its fullest. Her music has also evolved from the lo-fi first album. She has added new instruments like subtle electronics, notable in tracks like “La Loose”, that provide a more polished and produced feel to this outing. The band, originally built for touring purposes, also feels bigger and more important throughout the album making this have the sense of a full band album and not a pure solo project.
This is not a dramatic departure from Cerulean Salt, an excellent album too, but more of a refinement. The album starts with “Breathless”, one of only two songs that breaks the 3-minute mark. In fact, the two longer tracks open and close this album giving it real balance and flow. On “Breathless”, Crutchfield vocally sounds a bit tortured, giving weight to a song that is primarily pianos and base driven with the occasional electric guitar chord for texture.
“The next track, “Under a Rock“, has a bigger feel despite its very short 2-minute run time. Thirteen seconds in, when the drums and chorus already kick it, the song has you hooked. Again the pacing of this album is extraordinary, flowing so quickly and seamlessly into “Poison” – another near perfectly crafted song with Crutchfield questioning “What do I want? What do need?” This seems the closest thing to a theme on this album. It is not so much of a lost love album as lost soul or very least an artist figuring things out.
The gloriously titled “<“ (less than) has Crutchfield informing a significant person in her life that they are “less than me, and I am nothing”. This sad, self-depreciating insult is more telling on her own mental state than the person she is proclaiming it too.
The outstanding track “Air” continues the detached personal emotions as Crutchfield both wants and rejects her lover interest. She adds some clever lyrics with “Left you out like a carton of milk / You were quick to query me / But I wanted you still / To relay something warm”.
Ivy Tripp is a great album that sees Cruthfield evolve. She has grown in ability to orchestrate songs that both lyrically and musically deliver just enough to make them perfectly interesting and enjoyable for the listener.
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