Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow


4.1
excellent

Review

by owl beanie STAFF
January 18th, 2019 | 238 replies


Release Date: 01/18/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: delusions of candor

Every now and then I open messenger to an offhand observation or inconsequential inquiry from a friend I haven’t seen since high school. A “have you seen x recently?” unfurls into a discussion that, in hindsight, has picked up from some indeterminate point in time – not the beginning, not the end, but a spot that constantly shifts across two intertwined timelines. It’s a weird feeling, to converse with someone as if you’ve not been separated by a chasm that’s at least three years wide, and it evokes a dissonance in me: on the one hand I yearn for that part of my life back -- the one shackled by rigid routine and allocated social periods, and on the other, I can’t even imagine being anyone other than the person I am now. Does Sharon Van Etten feel that way every time she looks in a mirror?

It’s at this juncture, between who we are and who we were, where the album sits, stirring, shifting in its bones as it traces its own lineage of pain and triumph. On Remind Me Tomorrow, the two exist in uncomfortably close proximity, and by letting this happen it often feels as though Van Etten is pinpointing the quiet sorrows drifting through crowded rooms. What I mean is that when I replay Comeback Kid for the nth time I tend to let myself be subsumed by the mess: I draw up, for instance, the backstory of a crumbled relationship even though the songstress plasters it against an indomitable drum pattern and walls of wailing synths. And then we stumble onto Jupiter 4: a moment that cuts out all that background noise, and the myriad humdrum conversations, focusing in on all the tension and panic which shadows them.

I let it happen. A little relieved, a little terrified. Remind Me Tomorrow is an uncomfortable experience at times because it presents an impasse and, centre frame: a woman mapping out which path to commit to in real time. If Are We There was the fear of waking up in company, this record here is the tumult and uncertainty of waking up alone -- learning, once again, to exist with and rely on oneself outside the parameters of a relationship. Which isn’t to say that Van Etten is actually lonely: No One’s Easy To Love pushes her into those same corners as, say, Taking Chances, but now she is guarded, wary -- grounding new loves in the wreckage of old ones so as to not lose herself completely in someone else all over again. And that’s what we’ve learned about love since Are We There; artificial love is lopsided, tenable only through the magnetism of a status quo. Here: ”our love’s so real”.

This is the kind of record that never loses sight of a desire to learn and change. Whenever Remind Me Tomorrow circles in on starry-eyed nostalgia -- that vile, misleading thing -- it rearranges the fabric of its composition and converts idealism to retrospect. The synths harken back to potential nostalgic hotspots (which, for my money, is attained by writing songs lined with the same kind of grandiosity that Darkness era Bruce Springsteen had) but they’re tainted, coffee-stained and made into some ironic joke by impassioned and desperate vocal performances – signalling how memories corrupt and fade upon their overlap with the present. That voice, the same one that becomes the cynosure of a new cycle of veneration every time Van Etten releases music, carries that weight and cynicism of the past, but also, somehow, the breeziness and optimism of the future she has been working towards. I can scarcely believe how real Seventeen’s “I know what you’re gonna be” hook feels every time it cracks open the song during its latter half. In its desperation it’s revealed as an act of futility. I think it’s one of the most impactful moments in her discography. And then Malibu’s “just a couple of dudes who don’t give a ***” scene is recalled with the faintest upturn of the corner of the mouth and, for a second, that levity provides the smallest moment of clarity, the past dissolving into the future.

Above all, this sometimes subtle (sometimes not-so) transition into hopefulness feels hard-won. The record at large is both an end and a beginning -- reducing terrifying, looming figures to faceless lessons, killed off like extras by the inexorable forward rally of time. In front of us, though: different mistakes to be made, more songs that flail in such a way that it looks like they’re flying, more tiny fragments of days that, in hindsight, will inflate and reveal themselves as life-altering. To these things Van Etten stays close. On Remind Me Tomorrow, it's in a way that is honest and true to who she is now, and far away from who she was then.



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user ratings (205)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
verdant
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


2425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

puuut your haaaaands on your loveeeeeeeeer

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2019


16931 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Jack, you beautiful bastard, great review!



(Gonna read it now)

Digging: Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


3093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ugly album, beautiful review.

Digging: Keaton Henson - Six Lethargies

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 18th 2019


32680 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ready to hear this, hopefully it's not too ugly. I was a fan of Seventeen but not the other singles.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


42700 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

album is gorgeous and top tier sharon

verdant
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


2425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

i llove you blush. and loathe am i to speak on his behalf, but i don't think he's positing "ugly" as a negative adjective

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 18th 2019


32680 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ha yeah I deleted my comment once I figured out I was likely misinterpreting

beautiful review verdant!

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2019


16931 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yup confirmed. Sweet write up.

verdant
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


2425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

thank you guys! i actually got anxious posting this. can't believe i haven't written since november

rabidfish
January 18th 2019


5513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

can already tell this album's gonna be divisive.

It's pretty sweet, tho.

Digging: JP Bimeni And The Black Belts - Free Me

robin
Emeritus
January 18th 2019


4594 Comments


albums so fucking GOOD holy shit

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2019


3450 Comments


summary djents

btw Messenger has a capitalised “M” I have no affiliation with Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg I just felt compelled to tell you

McMegaMountain
January 18th 2019


294 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's good, but I like Are We There more.

zakalwe
January 18th 2019


29014 Comments


Is this one better than Are We There? Bloody love that album.

rabidfish
January 18th 2019


5513 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

imo yea. Not sure it's better than Tramp, gotta relisten to that.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


42700 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

epic might be best but this is neck and neck with Are We There imo



I just can't fucking stop with Seventeen

zakalwe
January 18th 2019


29014 Comments


Exciting

zakalwe
January 18th 2019


29014 Comments


Not that it matters a jot but that album cover is fucking useless.

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 18th 2019


32680 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Man so much love for this and I was expecting a letdown



Personal hype level now maximized

McTime50
January 18th 2019


964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Going to listen to this soon and read this review. Or the other way around? Eh, whichever order works ig.



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