This album is easy to love, possibly due to the fact that it’s almost entirely about love. Singer songwriter Ellen Kempner, writes about love between friends, lost loves, and loving when things get hard. She brings a new vulnerability to her band’s third full-length record, Black Friday.
Growing up in general presents challenges. Kempner addresses topics like body image through a female, queer, young, and angry lens. While this may sound very specific, Black Friday’s relatability comforts listeners each day.
On “Worthy,” Kempner sings “I think I hate my body ’til it’s next to yours.” She mentioned in an interview with Pitchfork that the journey to self-love doesn’t have to be run solo.
Kempner continues to address society’s issues related to self-image on “The City,” “Stick N Poke,” and “Where We Live.” The latter features spoken word from New York City-based poet Melissa Lozada-Oliva.
Kempner sings with a candid insecurity about the things that hurt her. For example, on “Stick N Poke,” she sings “I skip dinner / They still want you thinner.” These tough topics are delivered with Palehound’s signature subtle flourish. Kempner finds the sweet spot of pain and beauty on this record.
The second track, “Aaron,” is about Kempner’s partner’s gender transitioning process. She sings about helping where she can and simply watching him grow. The track is delicate, honest, and just plain wholesome.
While lots of the tracks focus on emotional transparency and growth, “Stick N Poke” gives us the relatable humor many Palehound fans have grown to love. Kempner is funny even in the midst of struggle: “I think I’m due for a shitty tattoo! I only have these thoughts when I’m missing you!”
The Boston-based trio composed of Kempner, Jesse Weiss, and Larz Brogan worked alongside Gabe Wax (Soccer Mommy, Adrienne Lenker, Beirut) to produce this record.
Recommended If You Like: Adrianne Lenker, (Sandy) Alex G, Lomelda
Recommended Tracks: 2 (Aaron), 5 (Killer), 10 (Stick N Poke)
Do Not Play: 7 (Bullshit)
Written by Miranda Roberts on 06/17/2019