By Jocelyn Bromley
Alex Napping’s sophomore album, Mise En Place is an exploration of discovering your needs in a relationship. It grapples with the work and struggles involved in cohabitating with your partner, particularly when both are often away. The desires and questions that then lead you to look deeper into how you are treating yourself within the union. Questions such as what you are willing to settle for, to fight for, and to compromise on. Then in coming to terms with what you’ve been through while remaining hopeful for the next go around. We’ve all been there. We’ve felt it all before and we’ve thought it all before. These songs are the kinds of tunes we listened to when we mended our previous broken hearts, just slightly different.
Familiarity is what you can hear when you hear these songs but it is not through theme alone. Each song opens with one instrument and grows upon that. Many rhythms have delayed syncopation similar to that of The National. The music is simple; a steady drum kick like a heartbeat, a routine bass line, high pitched vocals to that are reminiscent of French pop. The guitar, however, does add variety to the songs from distortion in “You’ve Got Me” and “Living Room” to a stargazing strum in “Fault” (the best track on the record) to happy plucks in “Get Used to It” and “Temperamental Bed.” The album consists of beach style pop songs like “Pilot Episode” (the worst the on the record), sprinkled with some electronic melancholy that can be heard in “Heart Swells 2.0” and the darkest song on Mise En Place, “Wife and Kidz”, and generic alternative rock that can be found in garages across the country as newly formed bands try to find their sound such as in “Tender.”
Alex Cohen’s lyrics are solid, especially given how perceptive her young mind and heart is. They read like poetic diary entries that are longing for guidance. It’s difficult not to become drawn to them if only for their resonance in your own life and is most likely why you could find yourself Mise En Place on repeat, if only for a day or two. The lyrical inquires that weave through the album are an attempt to answer questions such as “how do you talk about a moment”, “would you teach me that math”, “will I hear your voice today”, “can you say we’ll get through this”, “where do I fit into to all this”, “why can’t I tell you that it’s a bad idea”, “you ask yourself why you’re doing this again?” Yes, that about sums it up!