Album Review: Indigo De Souza – All Of This Will End

[Saddle Creek; 2023]

With her debut, 2018’s I Love My Mom, and follow-up album, 2021’s Any Shape You Take, Indigo De Souza blended ingenuous pop and well-produced instrumentations, diaristic quips and refined poeticisms, the Brazilian-born, Asheville, North Carolina-based singer-songwriter navigating an impressive emotional and sonic range.

With her new album, All of This Will End, she continues to explore dynamic audial and lyrical gestalts. “You Can Be Mean” leads with a bubblegum melody and garage-y soundscape, De Souza quickly segueing into confrontive territory; “I can’t believe I let you touch my body / I can’t believe I let you inside”. The mix swells, soon sounding more studio-polished; guitar volumes are increased, synth-y flourishes added. “When will it get any better?” she declaims, the tune transformed from a one-dimensional ditty into a punk-inflected anthem about chronic depression and relational dissonance. As the track unwinds, a raw-edged and guitar-led welter is punctuated by a synthy refrain that conjures someone whistling through a distortion pedal. Jadedness is offset by a glint of innocence; anhedonic gloom is contrasted with a sense of mercurial lightness.

On “Wasting Your Time”, De Souza’s voice is battered by crunchy guitars and high-pitched accents. “I feel pretty down overall”, she sings, recalling the self-deprecations espoused by fellow Gen Zers Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, and Julien Baker; De Souza, however, is more complexly positioned, her vocal more ambivalently nuanced, at once conveying importunity, frustration, and veiled contempt. Her instrumentation, too, is more freewheeling, moving between semi-spacious contexts and choppy riffs that bring to mind Screaming Females, particularly 2018’s All at Once.

“Parking Lot” opens as a diaristic account of stoner disorientation or a slacker breakdown. “I’m not sure what is wrong with me / but it’s probably just hard to be / a person feeling anything”, De Souza declares. Her melody and vocal radiate immediacy and sound spontaneously generated, belying a well-honed aesthetic. “All of This Will End” is a portrait of loneliness and disillusionment. “I want to turn my brain off / want to turn my shame to dust”, she laments, on one hand effusing flippancy; on the other hand, evoking a disturbing volatility and palpable self-loathing. In this way, De Souza experiments skillfully with persona, neither relying on it too much, which can undermine genuineness, nor naively eschewing it, which tends to prompt a collapse into self-caricature.

“Smog” is built around a languid melody and seamless pivots between low-key verses and an energized chorus. De Souza again veers between confessionalism lite (“I eat too much when I’m nervous”) and lines that feel more psychologically charged (“I just sit down and shut up and hope they don’t notice me”). “Always” opens as the most slowcore-indebted cut on the project, featuring a narcotized vocal. The piece then transitions into a distortion-drenched chorus, reminiscent of Sadness or deathcrash, De Souza’s scream indicating a desperate desire for catharsis. “Father I thought you’d be here / … I thought you’d stay”, she rails, grieving the distrust (of people and life itself) that comes from being abandoned by a parent (one can also read the lyric as a rant against a patriarchally defined God). As the song unfurls, De Souza releases several more screams and growls while the mix grows increasingly cacophonous.

The album closes with the folk-leaning gem “Younger and Dumber”, which Olivia Rodrigo, Angel Olsen, and Feist would give their right arms to have written. “And the love I feel is so powerful / it can take you anywhere”, she proclaims, her vocal soaring. A fitting coda to a varied yet strikingly cohesive project, the track winds through explorations of loss and dislocation, the singer realizing that a new trajectory is in order. “Which way will I run / when I’m over you?” she muses, her voice cracking, the song pointing to newfound wisdom and the importance of resilience.

By the time De Souza closes with the lines “When I was younger / younger and dumber / I didn’t know better”, we gather that perhaps she does know better now. Hopefully this “knowing” will lead to curious discernment rather than fatigue and/or cynicism. In any case, All of This Will End can be regarded as a riveting bildungsroman, the 25-year-old De Souza reflecting on archetypal initiations and processing essential insights, all the while reveling in diverse instrumentation and a seemingly endless supply of hooks.