Three years since the release of her very impressive debut album, ‘Lemon Law’, Ōtautahi singer-songwriter Mousey (Sarena Close) is back with a matchingly strong sophomore titled ‘My Friends’.
Dazzled in effortless guitars, piano, distorted bass and endlessly catchy melodies, the album was produced by Ben Edwards at Lyttelton’s The Sitting Room, and cleverly captures Mousey’s talent of shaping real-life experiences and thoughts into delicate pieces of art.
Similar in musical structure, but in every way digging deeper than her first, this album navigates the emotional baggage of lockdown and life-long friendships, as Mousey explains. “I initially hoped the new record was going to be really light, cute and wholesome. But even though there are many ‘sweet’ songs, my year was really hard and some of my long-time friends left me with some nasty scars – so obviously the record reflects that too.”
Cue the album title and opening track My Friends. The nine songs frequently delve into friendship matters and speak to the importance of unconditional love, comfort and connection in our everyday lives. Mousey addresses parts that are bittersweet and at times, hard to confront.
First single, The Bench, she describes as “…a crazy, feminist bop”. It explores Mousey’s experiences with ‘silly boys’ over the years, with a suitably frenetic recorded-live feel. “All of my bad experiences and frustrations with boys in high school and similarly later in life needed a constructive outlet, and this song is it.”
In contrast, on Whenever I Can (I’ll Be There) Mousey sings, ‘I’m wishing if you moved to Japan, I’ll still know how you were doing with the phone in my hand. If we get different jobs, different lives, different friends, I promise I’ll be there for you whenever I can,’ revealing a deep affection and care for those who are most important to her.
My Hands Are Made of Glass, her latest single feels like the most vulnerable track from the album. It is her at her lowest and baring a contradiction within herself.
Sonically the production weaves into this with the strings made to sound like fingers on a chalkboard, screeching up and down. With many of her songs, what starts as a gentle vocal over strummed acoustic guitar, or piano, evolve into a full noise electric mid-section, and she accurately describes the peak of this track as feeling “…like inner chaos incarnate”.
‘My Friends’ is a full circle journey of love, comfort, connection, inner realisation and reflection. Her refined lyricism and effortless melodies blossom throughout and this is a rich reflection of her growth and maturity since the release of ‘Lemon Law’.