Blondshell: Blondshell

After a false start in the last years of the twenty-teens releasing alternative pop songs under the moniker BAUM, New York City-born Sabrina Teitelbaum retooled her sound and rebooted her music career for the twenty-twenties as the rock-centric act known as Blondshell. Sabrina’s self-titled full-length debut delivers nine guitar-based tracks in just over thirty minutes. The songs on Blondshell pull influence from gritty American indie rock to mid-tempo Brit pop and everything in between.

Named after the UPN network’s aughties teen drama, “Veronica Mars” opens the record nicely, starting off with just Teitelbaum and a guitar and quickly building to, and ending with, a raucous, screaming guitar solo that manages to incredibly, conclusively wrap the entire track up in just under two minutes. The slick and surprisingly mellow “Kiss City” enters immediately after the ephemeral opener and has Sabrina’s sexual frankness on full display as she sings lines like, “Just look me in the eye when I’m about to finish.” It’s at this point one may be reminded of Liz Phair, another indie rocker whose lyrical venereal candor became a trademark of her early songwriting. It’s also worth pointing out here Teitelbaum’s slight rasp which has a knack for occasionally recalling Phair’s vocal style.

The comparatively downbeat “Olympus”, the album’s first single, follows a thoughtful chord progression and provides a smart foundation for Sabrina to emote, which she does here beautifully. With its darkly humorous lyrics about being in love with someone who you know isn’t right for you, the country-tinged “Sepsis” cleverly draws from both religious symbolism and medical terminology and manages to fittingly close out the record’s first half. The meandering “Sober Together” is the collection’s first and only misstep. The song’s production seems unsure whether the track is meant to be a jazzy pop number or a woozy lament.

Fortunately, the album’s last two tracks, “Tarmac” and “Dangerous”, manage to pull things back together. Both songs begin with pretty-yet-moody lead guitar lines that build, adding additional instrumentation. But while “Tarmac” evolves to, and ends in, a dynamic display of indie rock bombast, “Dangerous” is more tempered, adding warm, gentle synths and a barely perceptible piano. It’s in the album’s final moments that Sabrina sounds the most vulnerable as she softly repeats the line, “Anything can take me down.” All told, Blondshell’s largely decent debut manages to provide a comprehensive overview of Teitelbaum’s stylistic strengths without overstaying its welcome.

Rating: 8.0/10

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