On Hello, Caila Thompson-Hannant spends her time signalling the death of the party. “Contentedness, you can come on in, but I wouldn’t take your shoes off”, she sings over the long, muted wind-down to “Contentedness”, removing herself from the playful, charming small-talk she’s been making all night. Before she got too filled with anxiety to find any of this fun, she was whispering “Hey man” like a passing whimsy, like these styles of pop music she plays with (chipped off, showboating dance pop or the sly guitar licking of “Contentedness”) actually did something for her. As the music dies out, the softened beat going for the sake of it, hanging around for the clean-up, she’s left thinking of the moments that slipped away. Hello captures exciting, rapid music and then tries to fill its void.
As a name, Mozart’s Sister pulls a double shift. It describes greatness in abstract, lying in her wake, and while Thompson-Hannant’s songs are bigger than the party, preying down on it like music often does in that setting, they bashfully retreat like she’s got nothing to say. If only she knew it was that dichotomy making Hello swing. “Single Status”, a caged club tune, is coordinated by sirens blaring, but when she brings it back to the bedroom, whistling along before she miserably clicks the receiver down, it becomes something we haven’t heard before. Hello lends itself to the crowded room, even becomes the life of it, but Thompson-Hannant is screaming inside. This is a startling, bottled-up collection of songs about underachieving and being overshadowed, but with all the energy and daring of the truest ignored sibling.
// Notes from the Road
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