A breathtaking five-track EP, UK artist Issy Wood’s ‘Cries Real Tears!’ captures the imagination while unveiling a core of palpable emotion and experience – all with a cinematic, dramatic flare.
Stream: “Cry Fun” – Issy Wood
I’ve got a brain that works against me, but I can leave it behind whenever we meet because I’m perfectly happy just pretending that I’m fine knowing I might never be missed…
Leave it to December to deliver some of the year’s most mind-blowing, ear-melting music.
A unique artist who debuted her first piece of music only just one year ago, U.K. painter Issy Wood defies genre and subverts expectation at every turn. A passing listen to her first four EPs (The Blame, Pts. 1 – 4), released between last December and this May, reveals a soulful vocalist with a passion for vivid, poetic lyricism and a quasi-“anything goes” experimental approach to sound. I’m compelled to give her an “experimental pop” label only because she evokes for me an intriguing marriage of Gotye and Florence + the Machine, but ultimately she appears to make music in a similar vein to how The New Yorker‘s Johanna Fateman once described her art: Eccentric.
Issy Wood’s eccentricity is particularly enthralling across her new EP Cries Real Tears!, released December 4th through Mark Ronson’s Sony imprint, Zelig Music. This breathtaking five-track expanse captures the imagination while unveiling a core of palpable emotion and experience – all with a cinematic, somewhat dramatic flare. Aside from the artist’s voice and thick, resonating bass lines, no two songs feel very much the same; even still, this might be Wood’s most cohesive work yet.
Every tantrum looks the same
I do my best to block it out
But when you’re screaming my name it’s hard not to adore the sound
Plus I’ve got a taste for pain from having you around the house
Or is that just my faulty brain telling me I’m not allowed
To clean you out?
I try to always be myself
But I don’t think I do that very well
And you say I haven’t been myself
And that’s true but I really don’t need your help
While Cries Real Tears! deserves to be heard in full, lead single and opening track “Cry/Fun” is a standout and easy favorite.
“Cry / Fun and this EP are an experiment in switching mediums,” Wood says. “’Cry/Fun’ more or less gives itself away in the title – for me the track, and perhaps the EP in general, is my confessing to mistaking pain for pleasure, or a trap for freedom in relationships, including the one with myself. I’m hoping these songs can do for other people what visuals alone don’t always manage to do.”
Speaking to Atwood Magazine, Wood dove a little deeper into the mechanics and inspirations driving this provocative outpouring of sound and sentiment alike: “Mark Ronson came to London in November of last year with a gift – an original Linndrum drum machine,” she explains “Turns out it was more of a loan, and understandably: Prince used it a lot on his records, and a-ha’s “Take On Me” is littered with Linndrum. Mark had to tell me over the phone how to plug it in, and a Dutch man on YouTube taught me how to make patterns. ‘Cry/Fun’ was the first track with the Linndrum that I didn’t hate, and it was the first song I made that I could imagine dancing to. It also coincided with my learning how to slow down the tempo of a track on Ableton – a revelation. The Linndrum suits a slow built up to a vivid chorus I think; it’s a sound that I missed the heyday of the first time around, but that doesn’t make me immune to nostalgia. Painful nostalgia suits the song.”
I’ve got a taste for pain
And I’d do it all again
How can you look so relaxed
Can you teach me to be just like that
Cause I’ve got a taste for pain and I’m sure I’d do it all again
And I could just take the blame but I’m not sure that would feel the same
And you try to ignore what’s done and then tell me I’m the only one
And your threats to cut my tongue means I cry whenever I’m having fun
How could you look so serene
Thought you’d been dying inside just like me
Folks may draw a through-line between some of Issy Wood’s subdued sounds and the new pop movement brought on by Billie Eilish’s superstardom; some similarities exist, but as an independent multimedia artist, we must assert that Issy Wood is in her own world – making left-of-center pop music that challenges listeners to keep an open mind, and perhaps a sense of whimsy. At once deeply confessional and tongue-in-cheek, Wood’s songs delve deep while maintaining a sense of levity; the relationships between her reflective lyrics and propulsive instrumentals on “Insist” and “Hell” are perfect examples of this artistry in motion. The rollicking, groovy funk of “Accident Prone” and hushed, delicate performance of “Daughterproof” further showcase the sheer breadth of Wood’s expansive creative mind.
In addition to the five songs off Cries Real Tears!, Wood also recently released the pulsing standalone single “Debt” at November’s end. Hypnotically seductive, the song juxtaposes Wood’s now-familiar throbbing bass work against her celestial, soaring vocals to create a gorgeous soundscape. “This was a rare instance of me knowing exactly the visual that would accompany a track – the monopoly theme in the video felt like a perfect nod to what owing means. The song is spiteful and affectionate in equal measure. The bass is really the star of the arrangement; my voice is just a cameo.”
I worry I’m getting numb to all the numbers
But some of them were really turning my stomach
I worry I’m too dumb to know how love works
I’m always diving into trouble head-first
Between those sweeping bass lines and her bone-chilling vocals, Issy Wood is deftly carving out a singular space in the music world – and what’s more, she’s thriving in it.
But we digress; if you give “Cry/Fun” a listen and like what you hear, then Cries Real Tears! is sure to offer endless delights. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Issy Wood’s Cries Real Tears! EP with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her final EP of the year!
Stream: ‘Cries Real Tears!’ – Issy Wood
:: Inside Cries Real Tears! ::
Mark came to London in November of last year with a gift – an original Linndrum drum machine. Turns out it was more of a loan, and understandably: Prince used it a lot on his records, and a-ha’s “Take On Me” is littered with Linndrum. Mark had to tell me over the phone how to plug it in, and a Dutch man on YouTube taught me how to make patterns. Cry / Fun was the first track with the Linndrum that I didn’t hate, and it was the first song I made that I could imagine dancing to. It also coincided with my learning how to slow down the tempo of a track on Ableton – a revelation. The Linndrum suits a slow built up to a vivid chorus I think, it’s a sound that I missed the heyday of the first time around, but that doesn’t make me immune to nostalgia. Painful nostalgia suits the song.
I wrote this the night after mixing cry/fun with Ronson in a studio, it’s about imposter syndrome, specifically after a day of people using engineering lingo that I didn’t understand. This song almost didn’t make it on the EP, but I’m glad it did.
I wrote this song almost 2 years ago, recorded it in one take, and when Ronson expressed interest in it I rerecorded the song last fall with my more sophisticated equipment and production skills. This is the most personal track on the EP, which is probably why it makes me sick to my stomach to hear it. It’s me singing to depression, disorder, these loyal psychological companions that make life hell but are hard to shake off. “I’ve never been afraid / to hurt myself / cause I really thought I do it well.”
This track is more about the bassline than the lyrics or anything else.
I wanted this track to toy with a listener’s sense of when it was recorded – 1919 in a shack or 2019 on tranquillisers?
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