Artist to Watch: Issy Wood Rises Triumphantly in Vulnerable Anthem “Muscle” & ‘If It’s Any Constellation’ EP

Muscle - Issy Wood
Muscle - Issy Wood
A built-up song of stripped-down emotions, Issy Wood’s intimate anthem “Muscle” harnesses our inner strength to a triumphant end.
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Stream: “Muscle” – Issy Wood




A built-up song of stripped-down emotions, Issy Wood’s intimate anthem “Muscle” harnesses our inner strength to a triumphant end. Passion and tension erupt with a dazzling radiance on a song that wears its soul unapologetically on its sleeve, inviting us to be true to ourselves and honest with the world as the artist does the very same – even if our truth sometimes hurts.

Muscle - Issy Wood
Muscle – Issy Wood
You called, you would
Can you tell I’ve been building muscle?
I know I’m tough but I have to make sure
I can do things you don’t have the guts for
Sometimes I worry that’s all I’m good for
(I’ve been building, yeah)
Tell me I couldn’t make you happy
If I changed everything about me
I wanna muscle into your bad dreams
And you can tell me you’re glad to have me

Released April 13, 2021 via Mark Ronson’s Sony imprint, Zelig Music, “Muscle” arrived earlier this spring as Issy Wood’s first song of the year, and the lead single off her recently-released sixth EP, If It’s Any Constellation (out May 28). An inimitable talent, Issy Wood has captivated our ears over the past two years with an impressively prolific (and seemingly limitless!) set of stirring, stunning left-of-center pop music that challenges listeners to keep an open mind, and perhaps a sense of whimsy. The Atwood Magazine editor’s pick and artist to watch deserves everyone’s attention, and her latest offering stands to reaffirm her place as a refreshing trailblazer in the alternative space.

Cries Real Tears! - Issy Wood
Cries Real Tears! – Issy Wood

Reviewing Wood’s Cries Real Tears! EP last year, Atwood praised the artist as one who “defies genre and subverts expectation at every turn”: “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 [her] most cohesive work yet.”

Co-produced by Mark Ronson, “Muscle” is a dynamic anthem full of surging energy and feverish, impassioned emotion.

The song simultaneously embraces and rejects notions of toughness through a compelling mix of clever wit and raw sincerity – and while she may be still figuring things out on the home front, there is no denying Issy Wood’s uncompromising honesty. As strong as it may be on the outside, “Muscle” is deeply vulnerable – and movingly so. She pours herself out in song:

Stuck in my throat and as I choke
You’re laughing your head off at me
(I just wish you’d give it up)
Whenever you go I corrode and
All my muscles go to sleep
(I just want to toughen up)
When all the trust I’ve built up
Comes back to bite me in my sleep
(I just wish you’d give it up)
I’m getting tough more robust, so
Next time you won’t get to me
I could change, I’m worried if I move my face
Oh, that it might get stuck that way
But under the muscle we’re all the same

“Muscle is a song that would’ve disappeared into the ether if Harley (Wertheimer) from Zelig hadn’t expressed a love for it so soon after I sent him the demo,” Issy Wood tells Atwood Magazine. “I thought very little of it until I listened back in my car, the track was originally just a safe home for the lyrics you hear at the very end:

I don’t need much
But maybe I’m just not in touch with it
I don’t need much
but maybe I’m just not in touch with it
I don’t need touch
but maybe I just want too much of it
I don’t need touch
Maybe I just want too much

“These were originally the chorus to a much, much earlier demo. I remember reading them out loud to my therapist at the end of 2018, saying “this is all you need to hear today,” then just leaving. They were too good not to recycle and expand on in a more anthemic setting with a better handle on production two years later. My demo was a much more frail affair and the irony of Mark adding actual muscle to the arrangement with those drums and thicker guitars is not lost on me at all.”

If It's Any Constellation - Issy Wood
If It’s Any Constellation – Issy Wood
I don’t need love
But maybe I’m not warm enough
No, I don’t need love
But maybe I’m not warm enough
You call my bluff
And suddenly I’m not so tough
You call my bluff
And suddenly I soften up

“Muscle” is Issy Wood’s show of strength: Charmingly visceral and irresistibly real, it brings us up-close and personal to the multimodal artist like never before, as does the rest of her If It’s Any Constellation EP.

Preceding the full five-track release, Wood unveiled the striking “Fuss,” another palpable unveiling of the self. A haunting ballad (if we can use the term loosely), “Fuss” once again showcases the depth of Wood’s unparalleled creativity. She affectionally calls it a “passive-aggressive song,” and we can certainly feel that sentiment in her words and hushed performance:

I’ll never make a fuss
I know you’ve got a lot coming up
Maybe I’ll turn all your dreams to dust
But I won’t make a fuss
I won’t make a fuss
I’ll make quiet sound like it’s too much
Maybe I’ll tell all your friends you’re washed up
But I won’t make a fuss


“‘Fuss’ was, like a few of my favourite songs, something I worked on to take a break from agonising over a more complex track,” Wood recalls. “It will always sound like a holiday to me in this respect, and something in that lack of pressure really worked. It was finished in 48 hours, it’s a confident song that doesn’t feel it has to take too many weird turns to communicate feeling (the feeling, for the record, is “polite rage”). Shout out setting number 21 on the Juno, and my guitar which broke shortly after I exported the file.”

I’ll abuse your trust
But I won’t make a fuss
Tell me am I on your good side
If I sit tight and act nice
Yeah I’m feeling good it’s just
Your love’s got me close to concussed
And maybe I’ll meet all your heat with disgust
But I won’t make a fuss
I’ll abuse your trust, but I won’t make a fuss
Tell me am I on your good side
Tell me am I on your good side
I really try

According to Wood, the If It’s Any Constellation EP explores her “emotions during an isolated 2020 in which inner demons were impossible to ignore.” The addition of songs “I’ll hold,” “Tough Luv,” and “Child’s pose” round out a 14-minute experience that glows bright, resonating with colorful sonics and grooving beats as well as an unmistakably aching intimacy.

“Muscle” remains an easy favorite, but it’s among good friends in a set that, once again, reminds us why Issy Wood is one of the most exciting “new kids” on the block.

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Stream: “Muscle” – Issy Wood



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If It's Any Constellation - Issy Wood

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