“This is the one that sounds like the other ones,” Gabbie Watts says at the beginning of “Sensitivity,” the fourth song from her new EP, Gabbie Rotts. While this may have been an off-the-cuff attempt at self-deprecating humor, I found the five-song effort to be anything but derivative.
After a good listen to opening cut “Talk to Me,” I found myself humming the melody; it’s catchy and upbeat although the lyrics are sad and disheartening, shifting from a “please leave me alone, I want nothing to do with you” attitude to basically begging to have this person come back. These conflicted emotions are far more common than most of us would like to admit, which is part of what makes Gabbie Rotts such a worthy listen. Throughout the EP, Watts sings about troubled relationships with acute bitterness, but she doesn’t shy away from using humor as an aid. Far from licking her wounds or playing the victim, Watts uses well-driven punch lines to fight through any lingering distress.
Each song on Gabbie Rotts is a liberating sing-along anthem you want to scream as you’re burning pictures of your ex in the backyard. Instrumentally, these recordings resemble an almost Diet Cig style with Lemuria type melodies — in other words, punky funk chord progressions with simplistic beats. It’s not especially far remove from the noisy folk she helps churn out in Cuntry, but the songs here are more raw and naked. With this type of confessional music, you expect some level of overwrought melodrama, but Watts delivers a twist to bedroom pop punk culture by cutting the shit and bringing straightforward, bitter love songs.
Filled to the brim with witty remarks and mawkish lines, Gabbie Rotts is as enjoyable to listen to as it is smart. Overall, it’s a remarkable leap from Gar Bar Bar, Watt’s solo debut full of acoustic folk recordings, released in February of this year. It’s a different side of her she lets shine with minimal apathy (albeit a few downright passive-aggressive moments), which leaves me wondering what else the songwriter has up her sleeve.