Reborn from wreckage and stepping into her new sound like a silk robe, Elizabeth is the patron saint of sad girls on her debut record, The Wonderful World of Nature (out November 1 on Our Golden Friend).
Elizabeth first established herself as the lead singer and songwriter of the Melbourne indie-pop outfit Totally Mild. After releasing two beloved records, the band dissolved, granting her the independence she’d required to fully commit to her solo project and the space to reimagine who Elizabeth can be.
Who Elizabeth can be, it appears, is a glamorous tragic. A queer pop anti-heroine holding a curtain of glittering melodies over ugly truths.
Casting herself as the antagonist wielding pop songs as weapons, she wipes away her running mascara and escapes a destruction of her own making. This debutante divorcée has traded in her white veil for a cocktail and concocted a collection of shimmering heartbreak bangers that celebrate the femme and her indulgent indiscretions. The record is a testament to obsession and the desire to consume as much – of people, of substances, of herself – as she can.
I go to parties like I don’t need anybody / Then I only miss you more / Excited faces, unfamiliar places / I will try to forget it was me who you adored
The addictive pull of people and the parties where they sway together in dark corners hangs like a cloud of smoke over the record. Through the dark, Elizabeth emerges as a tortured muse taking it all in with a pout, all batting eyelashes and ulterior motives, her platforms leaving ghostly marks behind on sticky carpets. Like Lana Del Rey, she proves to be an expert in extracting beauty from catastrophe, balancing a whimper and a snarl precariously on a knife’s edge.
These are pop songs that leave a lasting mark; they bruise and linger. Tasked with building out the world in Elizabeth’s deepest imagination was producer John Castle, who now adds Elizabeth to his roster of collaborators alongside Hatchie, Cub Sport, Jack River and Vance Joy.
Take me back in time before I knew you / Take me back to when I’d never do this to you / Hold me down and keep me from myself / Warn me of the one I become
Operating with an absolute absence of ego, together Castle and Elizabeth succumbed to their purest pop whims. Like a door-slamming teenager, album closer ‘Take Me Back’ leans into its moody instincts. Over grunge guitars, it channels the doomed spirit of Marissa Cooper hurtling headfirst into her fiery fate.
Hold me in the darkness, feel me struggle / Scratch and punch, make blood / You are not the answer, not the trouble / In the streets I stray
On ‘Don’t Let My Love (Bring You Down)‘, they both embrace the dream-like smallness of a whisper that grows in intensity, until it allows them to luxuriate in something more vast.
On this song specifically and the record more broadly, Elizabeth’s voice is more than just a north star, it operates like a black hole: unavoidable, and daring you not to look it in the eyes.
A fixation on intimacy extends far beyond just the lyrics – in designing the sound of her record, Elizabeth sought to create a feeling of intense closeness with listeners, to give the impression she’s hovering close, dealing out melodic incantations like a trusted friend or conscience on your shoulder. The effect is immediate, drawing the listener fully into their body and reminding them of the weight of heartbreak and desire.
In facing the futility of holding onto something that’s already slipped out of her grasp, Elizabeth has created a new kind of heartbreak album. The Wonderful World of Nature exists in a place of its own making; one where hedonistic and tender femmes can freely indulge in their desires and the things that cause them pain, emerging broken and whole in new ways on the other side.