Release Date: Apr 27, 2018
Record label: Cascine
Words behave like beats on this record, raising the question: what isn’t a beat? Drops pervade the tracks. Is every beat a drop? Every drop’s a bounty, certainly, and nowhere as abundant as on “Lavender Burning,” a song about the space filled by a “strange kind of loving.” Here and everywhere, phrases settle into evocative patterns, with language catching on feeling — boredom, loss, longing — and feelings caught on thought. Notions arrive from varied angles: terse wordplay charged with motion on “Lilac House” or abrupt metric breakthroughs in deliverance of scattered visions on “Solid 2 Void,” where emergence doubles up on itself.
There hasn't been a shortage of art trying to pin down the feelings of Americans deeply affected by Donald Trump's election, but the image Half Waif conjures on 'Torches' is among the more powerful. The second track on the New York trio's third album depicts a wild fire tearing through an inland field, and the desperate feeling of wanting to escape the raging heat for the cooling antidote of the coast. This recurring image kept visiting Nandi Rose Plunkett - chief songwriter with Half Waif and once a live member of Pinegrove - during the writing of 'Lavender'.
Because Nandi Rose Plunkett is so generous with her voice it can be easy to overlook the complex systems of beats and instruments layered behind it. An album about love, familial legacy, and the inevitable decay of human life, Lavender maintains an aversion to linear time. Plunkett's grandmother, who was near the end of her life when Lavender was recorded and has died since, stirs the titular flower in a pot on the stove and walks through her garden; Plunkett is carried in her mother's arms like a child; a relationship with a lover appears cross-sectioned in the now, all its conflicts and joys open to the light.
Lavender is the third full-length by Half Waif, a project led by Nandi Rose Plunkett of indie folk-rock outfit Pinegrove. An outlet for her own songwriting and experimentation, it's a different creature from her other band, despite the involvement of drummer Zack Levine and bassist Adan Carlo, also ….