by Zoe McCrea
The contrast of Eliza Niemi’s gentle voice in Mauno always intrigued me. Niemi brought a soothing relief to the unexpected, sometimes chaotic nature of their songs. It’s not an overstatement to say I was slightly heartbroken when Mauno ended, so I was excited to discover I could hear more from her.
The EP Glass brought me the same scattered yet intentional feeling of Mauno’s songs, but this time with a bit of subtlety. Right from the beginning you find yourself invested in Niemi’s self-reflective journey. It starts slow with the first track “R1” but each song builds from the last. The instrumentation is soft, almost secondary, but it sticks out when it counts. From the bubbly pop guitar strums to the perfect timing of the weighty cello, every dip and pause brings the lines of Niemi’s writing to life.
Reflecting on a relationship, Niemi explores how that intimacy has shaped her, but also how she shaped it. This theme carries through the whole EP; the feeling of sorting yourself out, connecting the dots of your identity to a place or a person or a time. Niemi comes to realizations about herself and then contradicts them just as quickly. The final line of the last song “Big Fun Party” articulates that feeling perfectly: “The worst part of it all is how I thought you taught me beauty or how I’m pretending I don’t still think you did it truly Because I’m just like you, in a way I need to say to stay same: you broke your brain, but I broke my heart just the same.” Right away these songs felt so familiar.
With every listen a new line stuck out, or a different modest pop melody lingered in my head. The quick 10 minutes of Glass present a snapshot of how it feels to stumble down the path of self-discovery (and hopefully, self-acceptance). Niemi reveals that this doesn’t just happen once, but it’s a choice we keep making: to be “breakable but strong like glass.”