The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday January 28th

Music Review: Pop rock and relationship issues prove powerful on LP

I Was Totally Destroying It
Horror Vacui

pop rock

4 of 5 stars

There are few moments as tumultuous as a breakup. The airing of grievances that follows the end of a relationship is harsh and embittered, and many times the only medium that can truly mirror such raw emotion is music.

Pop songs have long served as therapy for musicians trying to escape their former beau, but Rachel Hirsh and John Booker have flipped the script.

Channeling the sheeny back and forth of Fleetwood Mac, the two have collaborated to capture the dynamic of their hotly emotional end.

Punk-driven pop is the vehicle for IWTDI’s reckoning. Heavy riffs, pummeling drums and quirky keyboards coupled with Hirsh and Booker’s harmonies make songs such as “Come Out, Come Out” and “Caterwaul” as infectious as H1N1 in a crowded lecture hall.

But it’s hard to ignore the effect the ex-couple’s estrangement has had on their music. On “Cup of Tea,” Hirsh candidly sings, “You’re not very sweet/No you’re bitter and you’re mean/But there’s honey if I need,” vividly capturing the scathing heat of the moment.

But Booker gets his own jabs in. On “Green Means Go,” Booker belittles the affair’s importance singing, “A crowning achievement for most men/Was a slap on the wrist for nothing/So I’m OK with walking away.”

Where Hirsh’s piercing soprano often seems aimed and ready to destroy any remaining bit of Booker’s self-worth, the weary Booker attacks with jittery, caffeine-fueled low blows that use rhythmic wordplay rather than force to make their impact.

But when the two vocalists are pitted against each other, it creates a fiery passion that reeks of all the ugly fights that lead to a breakup.

Horror Vacui, fueled by a raging nuanced pop-rock that’s one of the best in the area, is a powerful interaction between two people who, despite their vehement differences, still mean a lot to each other.

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