- 26 Feb 21
Gorgeous angst from Phoebe Bridgers collaborator.
Even if we haven’t quite come to terms with it yet, Julien Baker is the artist we need in 2021. It’s been a rocky 12 months – and who knows what upheavals lie ahead? Enter the 25-year-old native of Germantown, Tennessee, whose third album amps up the angst and the heartache that were a feature of her first two records – but which also flings back the shutters and lets some light twinkle through.
Baker is perhaps best known to the wider world as of one third of indie “supergroup” boygenius, along with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. Bridgers was one of Hot Press’s artists of 2020 and a high-profile interviewee in our annual (check it out – it’s worth your time).
There will inevitably be comparisons, then, between the two. But Baker is arguably the more cathartic artist – and, literally, the more plugged in, as she demonstrates on feedback-drenched opener ‘Hardline’. The guitars hit hard – the lyrics, even harder. “Blacked out on a weekday,” she sings. “Still, something that I’m trying to avoid.”
Baker is queer and was raised by evangelical Christians. And, as her lyrics testify, she has come through addiction issues. She also has that Kurt Cobain/ Billie Eilish gift of weaving the darkness of everyday life into gorgeous art.
This she proceeds to do as Little Oblivions dips and weaves through the thrilling, terrifying ‘Heatwave’ to ‘Faith Healer’ – a song that cautions against those promising easy answers to complex problems. There’s even an impromptu boygenius reunion as she hooks up with Dacus and Bridgers on ‘Favor’. Like everything else here, it is sublime.