Waxahatchee Great Thunder Merge Records
After the anthemic indie of last year’s Out in the Storm, Waxahatchee returns quickly with this EP, made up of tender, intimate songs closer in spirit to her roundly-adored debut, American Weekend. Where that first record confessed in a hushed, lo-fi crackle, Great Thunder boldly highlights Katie Crutchfield’s voice in crystal clarity. It’s bookended by two very good songs in Singers and Take So Much, both built around stripped-back piano, each melody like a mirror image of the other. Drifting friendships or wallowing in the toxicity of a relationship are typically melancholy themes, while Crutchfield nails that mark of a good pop song in writing lyrics to project onto (her howl of “take it all out on me baby” on Take So Much fits this bill perfectly).
The rest of the record disappoints by comparison, the arrangement’s forgettable and lyrics straying too close to genericism. Despite how small, almost hidden, she sounded on American Weekend, the directness of her words, pulling no punches, gave it an arresting power. Songwriters evolve, and Crutchfield’s voice is more than good enough to sit brightly, front and centre, but on Great Thunder at least, that enchantment is missing.