“Cover up my eyes / tell me that it’s fine,” renforshort pleads on the penultimate track of her debut album. Happily, the strengths found on dear amelia show she has nothing to worry about.
Lauren Isenberg, the young Canadian behind renforshort, has made a name for herself as one of Gen Z’s rising soft-grunge, alt-pop girlies (think Abby Roberts or Holly Humberstone adjacent). With two well received EPs – teenage angst and off saint dominique – as well as opening slots for YUNGBLUD and The Band CAMINO, she’s already building a steady fanbase for herself. Now, the release of her full-length debut, dear amelia, anticipates an even bigger future.
The album starts strong with “i miss myself”: at first mellow and brooding, the song builds to a cathartic, driving-with-the-windows-down final chorus, as Isenberg laments the way she neglected her own needs for a relationship. The following few tracks feel somewhat underwhelming in its wake, delivering safe pop that continues to agonise over sour relationships.
It’s on “we’ll make this okay” – a collaboration with the prolific Travis Barker that steps away from prescriptive pop production – that dear amelia finally finds its biting point. The restless drum beat carries into “i thot you were cool”. “Why does it feel like the only thing I could do / was give my body to you?” Isenberg asks sorrowfully, a heartfelt sincerity perhaps belied by the pun in the track title.
The album continues to go from strength to strength in its second half, from Isenberg’s acoustic duet with Jake Bugg on “let you down”, to the synth pop love letter “Julian, king of manhattan”. It’s the existential musings of “better off”, and the melancholy introspection on “not my friend”, however, that are dear amelia’s true standouts, and that prove Isenberg is at her best when the levels of angst are turned way up. Despite the record’s slow beginnings, by the time that the soft vocals and ethereal production of “amelia” ring out, renforshort’s potential is undeniable.