There (hopefully) comes a time in every 20-something’s life when they look around at the way they are living and think “this has to change.” Living in a sweaty basement with no windows isn’t fun and “bohemian” forever. Parties are only glamorous when they don’t become routine. At a certain point, your restaurant job isn’t supporting your acting career, you’re just a professional server with a nice headshot. Whatever the circumstances of your coming-of-age quagmire, deciding to take a next step can feel gargantuan, and once it starts to fall into place it feels surreal. Brigitte Naggar AKA Common Holly gets it. Her new track “If After All” feels just as surreal and gargantuan as the growing pains it tackles. It’s from her upcoming album Playing House, an album she says “is an expression of how I want to begin my adult life.”
“If After All” is a woozy, psychedelic track about trying to move forward without falling back into the same destructive patterns. “Lets take this one day at a time” she sings over clattering percussion and the sounds of fingers squeaking on acoustic guitar strings. It sounds trite when described as such, but the gruff “urghhs”, the pitch-shifting chords, and eventual tumult of guitar noise make this one of the cooler songs you’ll hear at a coffee shop. Think a less contrived CocoRosie. The song captures the feeling of being fucked up, where things slide out of focus only to snap back to a random sensory detail. The shifting structure and sound of the track is a comment on how different each of those days can be, but we need to soldier on through them anyway.
These instrumental shifts don’t come at random, but whenever Naggar finds herself at a crossroads. “I have no reason to be blind… I’ll learn it till I forget” she decides before the sound drifts into wordless vocalizations over bongo drums and string arrangements. But enlightenment is not so easily found, and toothy guitars storm in to bring the chaos. “I always forget, any way you spin it, I always forget” Naggar sings as the guitars swirl around her, capturing the despair of wanting to learn from your mistakes but forgetting your lessons. You should know better, but what if you never become a Real Adult™ and stay a filthy mess forever? Even when the guitars gnash their teeth Naggar’s voice sounds like it’s drifting on a cloud. I can’t wait to hear where she floats to next.
Listen to “If After All” here.