by Margaret Banka
For their debut EP, Sixteenth Sapphire, Emily Sinclair, Lauren Wittmann, and Jenna Wittmann of Virgo Rising grace our thirsted ears with a sweet collection of graduated bedroom pop. Introspective themes dominate this enchanting combination of gossamery vocals, clean lyrics, and soft instrumentals, which immediately reminded me of Frankie Cosmos, old-style Ian Sweet, and Angel Olsen, minus some of the drama.
Fans of these artists will welcome Virgo Rising’s familiar use of breaks, deceleration, and acceleration, which keep each of the EP’s six tracks fresh and exciting; each song has its unique place on the EP. The subtle play with tempo is especially effective in the tender song, “Juice,” fluttering accelerations are reminiscent of a racing heart in the early stages of love, albeit, a love for oneself. Conversely, the track “Goat-Footed” slows down in the chorus as if to link subject and tempo, culminating in an emphasis on the rush of thoughts that have been concealed during the rest of the song.
The lyrics are honest and vulnerable, with seasons of solitude cycling throughout the EP. Sometimes this solitude is internal– like self-reflection or anxiety– as in “Goat-Footed”, and “Headlights”. The swaying tune “Molly Ringwald Dances in the Front Row” captures detachment as the physical embodiment of solitude, as Molly, singled out in a crowd, appears alone in a prevailing sort of way. Standing out conveys a measure of power for a young woman finding her stride: “And her sneakered feet/ always come back down/ with every beat/ in perfect harmony”.
The reference to iconic coming-of-age wallflower Molly Ringwald gloriously consolidates Sixteen Candles with Sixteenth Sapphire and its many references of birthdays and growing up.
This point in the EP also represents a climactic shift in theme from one of uncertainty and anxiety found in the earlier tracks, to a new outlook of acceptance, poise, and growth. “Molly Ringwald Dances in the Front Row” undoubtedly paves the way for the message of self-love in the next track, “Juice”, and captures the theme of self-care within the EP itself.
Sixteenth Sapphire is a pleasure to listen to, while showcasing the artistic talents and generational sensibilities of Virgo Rising.