Waxahatchee
Out in the Storm


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
July 20th, 2017 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If this is the storm, then I'd like to ride it out too.

Even in its darkest and most understated moments, Out in the Storm smacks with a sense of confidence that almost appears to betray its subject matter. Much like the new Paramore record, Waxahatchee’s new effort is the culmination of recent experiments with her original sound, resulting in a dive into the pop-rock realm. That’s not so surprising, however, as Waxahatchee - or Katie Crutchfield, her real name - already hinted at this shift with 2015’s excellent Ivy Tripp. As with many of these young upstarts, we were witnessing another tale of a lo-fi indie folk darling gradually expanding her sound and sculpting it into a different beast altogether. And while I do still have some reservations about the end product, Out in the Storm does manage to be an incredibly solid affair while tightening Crutchfield’s songwriting craft.

But going back to that first sentence about confidence, what exactly does that mean? Well, perhaps the way opener “Never Been Wrong” storms out of the gate with punk-influenced electric guitar licks and a snappy tempo has something to do it. But Waxahatchee manages to vocally explore a decent variety of emotions in the meantime, combining both her folk-oriented past and elements of her current stylistic plateau. The lyrics aren’t exactly the most uplifting, as album highlight “Silver” demonstrates:

If I turn to stone
The whole world keeps turnin'
I went out in the storm
And I'm never returnin'


Apparently, Out in the Storm’s lyrical content came from a painful breakup, much like Beck’s Sea Change or Adele’s 21. But the anthemic instrumentation and bright production make it feel bizarrely good to be entering “the storm” with her. The emotional contradictions displayed on the album provide much of the appeal, even though softer numbers like “Sparks Fly” and “Recite Remorse” do tone things down to provide more of that indie folk flavor that was more prevalent on previous releases. Regardless, the fact that the wordplay and the music don’t always match makes it an interesting affair to sit through, and at a mere 32:49, it manages to be appealingly concise as well. But certainly, Katie’s backing musicians help flesh out the project with both tight and convincing takes on each arrangement. I already mentioned the fantastic riffs that are doled out with the opener, but the alternative rock elements of the rest of the album have their own interesting experiments, such as the synthesizers in “Hear You” or the grunge-like vibe on “No Question.” The driving, muscular rhythm section is able to meld with the singer-songwriter aesthetic very nicely on this record.

Out in the Storm often feels like a symbol of how determination and conflict clash and strike against each other, but once in a while, more somber songs do appear to make the listener reflect on the album’s overall concept. Crutchfield doesn’t shy away from the draining and bitter nature of the subject matter she’s displaying, especially on tracks like “Brass Beam” and “Recite Remorse” which seem to bring the darkest elements of her post-breakup woes to the forefront; the former is particularly angry about this, in fact. That said, it would have been nice if the whole thing was just a bit more tonally consistent. A balance of soft and hard-hitting tracks is fine, yes, but Out in the Storm could have benefitted from a slight reduction of the softer tunes. We can already grasp the overall concept of the record, and the emotional confusion and musical contrast provided in the poppier songs was perfectly serviceable.

But in reality, that might just be nitpicking. The more important thing is that Out in the Storm is an excellent continuation of Waxahatchee’s evolution as an artist. Although a bit rough in spots, it still manages to explore the overarching subject matter in a meaningful fashion. On top of that, it explores Waxahatchee’s transformation into an alternative/pop rock singer-songwriter in a meaningful fashion. It doesn’t forget her roots, but it also doesn’t forget that she’s aspiring to develop and reshape her past into something new and enticing. And when you get down to it, Out in the Storm manages to be utterly compelling because of this blend of the old and the new.



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user ratings (128)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2017


21181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sup, ladies and gents

Pajolero
July 20th 2017


1428 Comments


Yea I heard this was good

dimsim3478
July 20th 2017


8987 Comments


Yea I heard this was good

The critical response to this album has been crazy positive.

luci
July 20th 2017


12844 Comments


nah it hasn't. 80% on metacritic and no bnm from pitchfork. #307 best of the year on rym

theBoneyKing
July 20th 2017


24444 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ 80% is a relatively strong Metascore... And though it didn't get a BMN from Pitchfork it still scored in the 8 range so it was just short of BNM. Crazy positive may be a bit of an exaggeration but this has definitely been pretty well-received by critics. Though critics always praise this kind of stuff.

dimsim3478
July 20th 2017


8987 Comments


nah it hasn't.

oh shit i thought like 80 metascore and a bunch of 4/5 reviews were crazy good for waxahatchee but just looked at ivy tripp's response and it was like the same.
Though critics always praise this kind of stuff.

for some reason i get an inkling that waxahatchee gets the wrong kinda praise. like the reviews around release day seem to be good but ivy tripp for example barely made any best of lists at the end of 2015.

luci
July 20th 2017


12844 Comments


I feel that her music has become tiresome because she doesn't integrate any subgenres or new influences into her sound, it's just capital-I Indie Rock with a side of Singer/Songwriter. This definitely isn't "pop rock" and she isn't sculpting her sound into a "different beast altogether." This seems punkier and more aggressive on the surface but it's really just paint-by-numbers of her typical sound.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2017


21181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not really sure how this isn't pop rock or "a different beast altogether." First off, when you examine the song structures and an increased emphasis on a more anthemic alt-rock sound, it definitely brings pop to mind. As for the "different" part, I don't feel like I have to explain that this sounds almost nothing like her lo-fi debut

dimsim3478
July 20th 2017


8987 Comments


she doesn't integrate any subgenres or new influences into her sound, it's just capital-I Indie Rock with a side of Singer/Songwriter.

agree wholeheartedly, and yet i still like it; totally get that others get tired of listening to the same old shit tho. personally, i dont feel that stylistic innovation is at all necessary in making good or even great music; to me, it just matters what the person is able to do within that style.

luci
July 20th 2017


12844 Comments


She switched things up on Cerulean Salt. Since then it's been little variation in her indie rock aesthetic (this is the third in a row with a similar sound). This isn't pop rock because there's no actual pop here. Slightly catchier melodies does not amount to pop music, and she doesn't write choruses into her music. Big contrast with the new Paramore record where every track is hook-laden throughout (and with recurring choruses).

dimsim3478
July 20th 2017


8987 Comments


Slightly catchier melodies does not amount to pop music

i feel this is catchy enough to easily fit into the category of pop music, even without the choruses.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2017


21181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"bnm from pitchfork"



Pitchfork sucks dick anyway

dimsim3478
July 20th 2017


8987 Comments


definitely true but we were talking about the degree of critical response, bnm being a significant measure of strong critical response for waxahatchee

Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 20th 2017


21181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I suppose. I guess I just don't trust Pitchfork's word on things very much, lol

Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2017


21181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"i dont feel that stylistic innovation is at all necessary in making good or even great music; to me, it just matters what the person is able to do within that style"



agreed

Pikazilla
August 29th 2019


29821 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is great! I love the atmosphere of this record.



And on an unrelated note, pitchfork has the worst fucking ratings on the planet.





Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2020


27975 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

new album announced and a fresh single



am I the only one that gets Smashing Pumpkins vibes at times on here?

hamid95
February 7th 2020


1197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

New single is pretty nice

Atari
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2020


27975 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

stoked for Saint Cloud

dimsim3478
March 20th 2020


8987 Comments


new album leaked



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