Often when I am bored, I become more anxious. My idleness makes my brain go into hyperdrive making me not only bored but then too anxious to accomplish anything and so I continue being bored. Actually, the whirring sound of tape being rewound in Ada Lea’s track “rewind-dniwer” is a good portrayal of what my brain sounds like when I’m in this loop.
Thankfully, Lea is able to be creative in the face of her own boredom, hence her new album BORED!!! (demos). The album is a collection of lo-fi, full-band garage-rock songs and others that are whispers from Lea. On the former styled tracks, Lea and her band are fuzzy and poppy, effortless coming together like the high-fives you shared with your best friend between classes in high school. On the latter, Lea is presumably in her bedroom by her lonesome although there’s background noises that often bleed into the tracks – the intimacy is expectantly heightened.
Altogether this is wistful bunch of tunes that are simmered in a concoction of anger, regret, and uncertainty. Anger: I think Lea hurls her anger on “Maybe Baby” at herself – the sharply distorted guitar that kicks in around the 1:20 mark also makes me think this song is angry. Regret: “I’m not going to hurt you this time,” croons Lea on “A Woman is a Lovesome Thing.” Uncertainty: On “Tabula rasa,” Lea tries to reconcile with her experiences – a year punctuated by Sonia – and beliefs in her ongoing quest to be content.
Although the group is strong, there are two standouts for me. On “For Real Now (Not Pretend)” Lea is determined to keep her chin up – “today is going to be a good day” she repeats. The song’s groove shadows Lea’s invitation to dance – “do you want to dance with me? Just one last chance” – and it gets more urgent and fun as the song chugs along.
The downcast “180 Days” is another highlight. It is stripped-back – a muted, wandering guitar is Lea’s lone partner – and here, Lea is at her most vulnerable and compelling. The song subtly grows from gentle pleas to time to move faster – in “180 Days” something unknown but seemingly promising is going to happen. Slowly the days pass and as we reach day 180 and find out that, if you’re lucky, that’s how long it will take for your broken heart to feel a little less broken. As Lea reminds us: “I’ll let you in on a secret: No matter the details of how it did start, no matter how dark, you can’t die of a broken heart.”
For a batch of rough takes, BORED!!! (demos) is superb.
Top Tracks: “For Real Now (Not Pretend)”; “180 Days”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)