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Woozy - "Blistered" | Album Review

by Bobby Cardos (@bobbycardos)

When I listen to Woozy’s “Christmas Club,” I think of a bar I was at in Brooklyn about a year ago that had a small notice in chalk behind the counter: “Open 5pm Christmas Day.” I imagine the song could be about what it might be like to work at that bar on Christmas Day, year after year with the same regulars. Coming from New Orleans, it’s effectively impossible that the trio had this in mind when writing the song, but its ability to invoke such clear imagery is just one example on the strengths of Woozy’s debut album Blistered.

The record’s greatest strength is in its song’s structures. Woozy’s music has been described as dynamic, but more than quiet quiets and loud louds, their willingness to abruptly change the course of a song adds excitement to what might otherwise be perceived as a slow paced record. This is set up from the start with “Venom,” which opens with a sparse vocal/guitar melody that jumps up to power chords and distorting vocals and frantic drumming, falling off to dark, reverb-laden chords and building back up to a wall of sound before a final drop back to guitar and vocals. The dramatic shifts in song tone don’t come off as any “gotcha” gimmick, simply a band following its internal songwriting logic, which happens to be unique and engaging.

And where the musical impulse might be to escalate or maintain the song’s pacing, Woozy often diminishes, as in “Painted White.” The snarling opening riff into driving beat comes off as perfect track three material for a record. But just over halfway through the song it falls into picked chords and a falsetto prayer: “Lord let me find the wisdom to let the thoughts flow
quickly outside when I fear the world is so unkind.” As if to structure the album similarly, the final track “Fade Like a Sigh,” only has one brief explosion of sound, ultimately turning into a circular chime of bells and staccato-picked guitar that never fully resolves, fading as Kara Stafford’s voice takes on more and more reverb.

Though there is a propensity towards the soft on Blistered, there is also an intensity to that quiet and the record’s pacing. It’s certainly not a sprint, but not exactly a marathon either, since that would imply some goal or destination. With lyrics like “Success is a lie, six years with nothing to show,” Woozy doesn’t seem to be a band of expectations. It’s more like Travis Henderson in Paris, Texas: without an intended endpoint, there is no need to run full speed ahead; the point is simply to continue. Woozy’s lyrics imply an acute awareness of just how arbitrary everything is, but also a will to endure in spite of it.