A love letter to herself, Renforshort’s Dear Amelia is filled with all the messiness, confusion, and self reflection you’d crave in a coming-of-age debut album.
The album opens with the lyrics “I’ve gone through way too many versions of me / wish one would stay a while” over a swooning guitar in the confessional “i miss myself”. With these words, Renforshort, aka Lauren Isenberg, immediately lets listeners know what they’re in for: an album chronicling the process of losing and finding yourself over and over again.
Sonically, Isenberg combines heavier pop-punk elements with glitchy hyperpop beats and vocal layering, alongside a few heartfelt singer-songwriter acoustic numbers. She makes it clear she’s undaunted when it comes to breaking the conventions of genre.
The scope of her musical influences is apparent in her choice of impressive references, both on the songs and in the lyrics. Travis Barker’s percussion turns “we’ll make this ok” into a layered and punchy dance track. Jake Bugg’s twangy vocals make for a heartfelt acoustic duet about falling out of love while still wanting to spare your partner’s feelings. Bubblegum pop tune “Julian, king of manhattan” is as much an ode to The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas as it is an ode to her own desire for stardom.
Throughout the record, Isenberg is able to look back at toxic relationships with analytical clarity. She voices both her guiltlessness in the matters, on “moshpit” and “don’t come back”, and wallows in her own faults that led to the breakdowns, on “let you down” and “not my friend”.
While her ambitions and love life dramatics make up much of the album’s run time, the real heart of the record lies in Renforshort’s honest reflections on mental health. The Toronto-born singer is not afraid to look inward—seeming to have a harder time grasping her own personal struggles than she does understanding her relationships.
“Amelia” stands out as a truthful piano ballad with buzzing synths where Isenberg confesses “I haven’t been feeling too good lately / no one understood / I felt like I was driving everyone crazy / ‘cause my brain didn’t work like it should’ve”.
It is Isenberg’s willingness to be blunt in her experiences with mental health that brings a true sincerity to her music, and makes her a powerful voice in this next generation of up-and-coming pop artists.
You can catch Renforshort live on September 15th at the Longboat Hall as she kicks off the “Dear Amelia” tour right here in her home city of Toronto.