reviewed by Michael Thomas
Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but there’s usually a very big difference between what we perceive to be happening and what is actually happening. There’s probably no bigger playing field for perception than a relationship.
On What You See, Margaux Sauvé details a relationship through a moody and ambiguous lens. The particulars aren’t clear—that’s more or less the point—but what is clear is that at least one party didn’t see the other clearly. We think we know what’s going and we think we know a person, but before long that gap of not-knowing becomes insurmountable.
Though the EP collects songs released over the last few years, the thematic throughline is strong. When you want to release a moody album, there’s probably no better way to do than the way Sauvé does, with strings, synths and piano as her main accompaniment. Sauvé’s vocals an rise to a wail and just a few shades above a whisper as she sings of lack of communication, hiding feelings and more.
There’s a real sense of hurt in the cinematic opener “Garden,” which deals with something most can relate to: feeling like you’ve given a large part of yourself to someone else and are ready to settle down, but the other person isn’t. Suddenly, you’re strangers and you don’t know what to do. “Such Words,” perhaps the album’s best song, is all about a lack of communications. “But we do not say such words” is repeated many times, showing how there are certain topics that seem to be off-limits in the relationship.
“Empty Note” takes place in the past tense—”How could I ever know you?” is the question heard most often, and you can really feel the hurt in that question too. But with “Baby Tomorrow,” there’s a suggestion that maybe a break in the relationship is for the best. “I don’t want you to know what defines my being” is pretty heavy to process but is pretty obviously a sign that she didn’t want to completely give herself to whoever she was with.
The album’s title track really brings home the theme of the album: what you see in another person is what the other person wants you to see. It’s up to you to get the complete picture. The final song is as ambiguous as the lyrics of the album; “Roses” is a song of reminiscence and maybe even reconciliation.
So what you see isn’t always what you get, and that’s a lesson worth learning.
Top Tracks: “Such Words”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)