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Still Woozy's debut album is an alt-pop catharsis

In a recent interview discussing the release of his newest album, Still Woozy commented, "This album is me figuring out what an album could be. Each song is expressing a different part of my palette, something I couldn't do if I was just putting out single after single." And figure it out he did. 

In August, Portland-based musician Still Woozy (born Sven Gamsky) released his debut album: “If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is.” Still Woozy came to the music scene in 2017 with a number of lo-fi alt-pop singles, including his most notable, “Goodie Bag.” As his popularity continued to grow, Woozy performed at numerous festivals, including Coachella and Lollapalooza. His songs have appeared in the 2018 film “The After Party,” the FIFA 21 soundtrack, among much else.

This first full-length album was “super cathartic” for Woozy to make as he dealt with mental health struggles from the pandemic. Along with its diversity of styles, he chose to distinguish this album with a new cover style, in which Woozy is photographed climbing out a hole in the desert. His previous singles and EPs all had art done by his fiancee, and he claimed to want “some sort of delineation between the single art and the (album) cover art.”

The album opens with “Woof,” a song that Woozy describes in an interview with Tone Deaf as “the most rock n’ roll [he’ll] ever go.” Reminiscent of The Strokes, “Reptilia,” the song challenges the listener to experience life in his shoes, claiming that they “wouldn’t last a day in [his] head.” The music video, released the same day as the album, embodies the chaotic disorder that Woozy insists fills his mind. 

The next song, released as a single earlier this year, “Rocky,” perfectly captures the power of dreams with a rather lullaby-style beat. Woozy states, “I always remember that you need me/When I’m nodding off slowly.” He falls asleep to the memories of his relationship which is simplified down to love, desires and needs rather than the complexities of his waking life. 

Coming up next is “That’s Life.” Released at the end of June, the music video for this song humorously plays into the difficulties of the past year. Each scene depicts distinct historical moments across the centuries in which Woozy faces immense struggles, reminding the viewer to challenge the idealism of the past. He states, “I wanna go back,” alluding to the emotions many felt as the pandemic raged.

The next few songs embody the ebbs and flows of a relationship. Another love song from the album, “Woopie,” describes the shock of reciprocated love. The song is filled with questions, as the singer wonders why his love keeps returning to him. Similarly, “Get By” highlights the difficulties of a relationship that are then appeased by simple expressions of care, like making his partner laugh. And, “Before You Were Mine” captures the change from a life without his partner to one filled with love for this individual. Again, like “Woopie,” there is a distinct fear of the relationship ending. 

In a departure from the upbeat sounds of its predecessors, “Drake” is much more intrapersonal and moody. Woozy repeats the line, “All I want is to be happy” and “All I want is to be laughing” several times in the song’s opening. It seems to be a piece of Woozy’s experiences during the pandemic and the struggle of carrying on. 

The earliest single from the album, released in 2020, “Window” presents a relationship filled with conflict. Woozy proclaims, “If I got one thing right it was you and me/But I go in through the window so no one sees.” While he loves this individual, he struggles with something not revealed in the song that is holding him back from the fullest expression of the relationship.

Unlike the spontaneous love that Woozy describes in the earlier songs, “Kenny” is a softer piece recounting the end of a relationship. He states with a sound closer to a sob, “Don’t pay me no mind, I’ll be fine/I’ll pull myself together this time.” It is as if he is begging this individual to not be the one to fix him. Yet, placed by the next song, “Get Down,” it seems that those lessons on his relationship did not translate: “She’s gonna break me/But I don’t give a damn right now.” “All Along” presents itself as a sort of reclamation of power, particularly in comparison to “Get Down.” It is a freeing song, one in which the singer is able to breathe again.

With hip-hop beats inspired by Drake singles, like “One Dance,” “WTF” tells the story of trying to find a simple love. And, the final song on the album, “These Days,” is much more mellow than the earlier songs. It is hopeful, a reminder that even with things going wrong, “These days/they go on.” 

Overall, Woozy’s album embodies the possibilities of the young musician’s career. With such a diversity of musical style and creative pieces, Still Woozy appears to have much more in store than the singles we have come to know him by. 

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