‘Female-Fronted’ is not a genre. It’s a pet peeve of not just mine but hopefully anyone who really doesn’t enjoy lazy genre pigeonholing. And seeing ‘female-fronted’ in descriptions usually turns me off. With Aria it feels like it’s not entirely consequential that they are fronted by a woman. It does feel that Bianca Dyrland and her cohorts have made it an identifier of their sound though, and there’s a positive outlook in a lot of the songs here.
In ‘Abandon’ there’s a collection of strong statements of self-confidence, and self-belief. Lots of this covers relationships and breakups, and there’s the snotty bravado of youth evident in a lot of it. ‘You Dug Your Own Grave, now lie in it’ is a perfect example, with the chorus “you said you’d die for me… well then, die die die”, a sentiment will feel cathartic to anyone who’s felt cheated and messed around by a significant other. While there’s a negative feel to the name ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, it’s got a positive message about taking each day as it comes, and recognising when something needs to change. The guitars aren’t anything special but they do a good job of backing up the vocal melody and the beat is definitely uptempo enough to keep someone dancing around their room.
I hate to draw comparisons (normally lazily done) to other female vocalists, but there’s more than a touch of a certain Ms. Williams about Dyrland’s delivery in her vocals. I definitely hear a lot of similarities to the delivery of tracks on ‘All We Know Is Falling’ to ‘Abandon’. Although they’re from very different parts of the United States, they both have strong, self-assured voices and choose to sing about overcoming problems rather than lying back and letting them overcome you.
The only thing I think is really missing is a strong single. While ‘On My Own’ makes for a strong contender, there’s a couple of weak moments, but it shows promise. The chorus is memorable, and probably pretty identifiable for any post-breakup teenager. “I guess i was just too much, and you couldn’t be my crutch”, with the backup vocal ‘woahs’ in the background, it’s got a good hook, and although not complex musically, it does get heads nodding. There’s a strong feel of early Paramore. This is also evident in ‘The Gambler’ which changes the tempo down for a ballad with piano and electronic programming which clash unsuccessfully while the vocals try to soldier on. It all breaks down in the breakdown, with ridiculous auto-tuned sounding vocals breaking in and out of focus for effect. It’s a bit laughable though, and I think the break in tempo doesn’t really work that well in the middle of the EP.
There’s some things to work on, but as an EP, ‘Abandon’ shows promise for this group. Hopefully they have time to experiment and get a stronger sense of themselves with future releases.
‘Abandon’ by Aria is out now on Leakmob Records
Words by Heather Robertson (@thecuriosity)