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  • Jonathan Widran


Now that singer/songwriter Soren Bryce made the effective transition from indie pop solo sensation to harder-edged front frontperson for badass alt rock band tummyache, we can in retrospect better understand why she called her 2018 album – the last under her own name – Discussions with Myself.

Though the songs on that collection were infused with her trademark likeable but insightful, quirky intimacy, those self-examinations were obviously taking her to a deeper place – where she would come to terms with her darker demons and embrace her truest authentic self.

Even if the hard-edged tracks on tummyache’s powerhouse debut Humpday like “Machine” and “Median” weren’t so viscerally engaging, this shift would be admirable (and thus, inspirational and necessary as a cultural conversation starter) because it comes from a painful place. She’s not afraid to confront her problems and create exciting music around her angst to make everything quite palatable.

It’s not just the music that’s generally more intense, primal and guitar driven. Her image had to change, too. So while naming her new band after a side effect of the severe physical anxiety she’s been suffering, she also cut off all her hair, as if to say, this is me, unadorned. Deal with it because I am! Humpday isn’t all wild fury, though. For longtime fans who might be inclined to miss the Soren they’ve embraced thus far, tThe most immediately accessible track is the jangling and hypnotic, dream-poppy “Commonplace,” a tune that abstractly expresses a sense of profound dislocation, a realm where “I got my name on my birthday/It’s the first thing that belonged to me.”

Though there’s a trippy floating bee effect that probably reflects those innate anxieties, the title track “Humpday” offers the perfect fusion of her confessional roots and those more blistering intensities, combining to form a wall of sound that finds her both surrendering to that anxiety and trying her best to block it out and feel hopeful no matter what. The one final word that comes to mind when you listen to Bryce’s successful shift is “courage”!

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