Rising artist THALA is finding strength in her vulnerability on new EP In Theory Depression. After forging a path in hazy, lo-fi indie, this forthcoming release is home to her sharpest, boldest songwriting yet, rendering these deeply personal explorations of self in vivid, ‘90s influenced indie-rock, and looming, psych-inspired walls-of-sound.
The new EP sees THALA dredging up the feelings she’d tried hard to bury before. As the usual bustle of her hectic everyday life was silenced, she filled that space with songwriting, delving deep into the complicated feelings she had previously left to somewhere deep within herself. On the eviscerating ‘You Had 2’ – addressed to a mostly-absent childhood figure – the artist transforms her pain into a tender letter of forgiveness, directed at both the subject and her own struggle.
Written in the early hours of the morning, still buzzed from a night out and letting her thoughts tumble out onto paper, ‘Easy Out’ takes a similarly nuanced approach to empathy and healing. The track processes her anger with someone close who hid the fact they were gravely ill to try and spare their loved ones from sharing their pain. Recalling the tangled indie-rock of Holly Humberstone, Soccer Mommy, and Phoebe Bridgers, and underpinned by spiky, surging guitars, it unearths tenderness, even as it rages. “I swear if you leave us behind, with all the shit you’ve done, I’ll hate you,” THALA offers; it’s both a dark-humoured, hollow threat, and a desperate, pained plea for them to keep living. On the raw-edged ‘Curtain Call’ meanwhile, her narrator stares blankly at the wall, setting out her greatest fear in plain, and totally unadorned terms. “I’m scared I’ll die unhappy without someone to love.”
In Theory Depression marks the artist’s most introspective writing yet, but as much as these incisive lyrics excavate from hidden depths, they’re often paired with widescreen, cinematic-sounding melodies. It brings to mind both the dazzling soundscapes of Mazzy Star, the witty bite of Liz Phair, and the subtle punk influences of Juliana Hatfield, who also spins the genre’s more relentless strains into snarling and bittersweet alternative pop.
Born in Germany, and raised in a Canadian household, THALA is now based in London, UK. A transient person, she previously spent a number of years on the Canary Islands, juggling odd jobs that later developed into a love affair with teaching scuba diving. It was here, in the Canaries, that the roots in her music began to take hold, drawing on shimmering early ‘90s shoegaze – a measured and cerebral style of music, emulated by the hours spent underwater as a diving instructor. Returning to Berlin once more, she threw herself into busking, open-mic nights, and the full-blown pursuit of music.
THALA has just wrapped up a joint UK tour in support of Independent Venue Week – alongside her Fire Records labelmates Amber Arcades and Hater – with a debut outing at Austin’s SXSW and later Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival also on the horizon. Having already won the backing of BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, Wonderland Magazine, and Clash, In Theory Depression is her most exposed and creative work to date.
11 May: Fire Showcase, The Rose Hill, Brighton, UK
w/ Islet, Bas Jan & RVG
12 May: The Great Escape, Brighton, UK
20 Jul: Jazzopen, Schlossplatz, Stuttgart, Germany
w/ Paolo Nutini & Parov Stelar
‘In Theory Depression’ (Out 7th July) is available on LTD Edition Transparent Splatter Vinyl & Standard White Vinyl