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Review: snapdragon – chin up

I was already familiar with Allison Rittweger from snapdragon after hearing her solo work as Azer as well as her guest vocal work on Needle Play’s debut album Cruel Spring, so it was no surprise to me that after I played this EP once, I then played it again and again, hooked on Rittweger’s smooth voice and Evan Doherty’s excellent production.

chin up is a project spanning the course of a year written and recorded by just the two college seniors, an impressive feat given how much attention to detail and pure quality are evident on the EP. It starts out strong with “Passive Pieces,” which features an interesting blend of ukulele and pop beats over a sweet bass line. There are some notable harmonies going on that bring layers and depth to the vocals, which are complemented by the high energy of this song.

This upbeat track leads into “Walls,” a much softer song that combines ukulele, twinkling piano, and drums to create this dream-like feel. It’s much slower and lighter than the other two tracks, but has a just as powerful pulse to it. This sweet song really sold me on snapdragon, the progression sucking me in and making me wish they had more than three songs— leading me to my personal favorite, “Ya It’s Stupid.”

This song sounds just plain catchy and fun. This is the most dynamic track on the EP, beginning slow and nearly ambient, but building up in tempo and intensity to reveal a punk rock nature that was a pleasant contrast from “Walls.” What can be said for sure about snapdragon is that they know how to blend soft with groovy, delivering strong, vulnerable lyrics with carefully orchestrated pop instrumentals. These are very intimate songs. They draw you in with catchy beats but leave you with something to think about. The last few lines of the last track

“Ya It’s Stupid” stuck with me for a while:
“So I’m watching the best time of my life
Disappear right in front of my own eyes.
I don’t know how to deal with that alone,
So I’ll resolve to let this nostalgia be my home.”

This song as well as the other two on the EP deal with themes of loss, loneliness, and isolation, but also with healing and self-acceptance. It feels like a piece of work that resulted from coming of age and adjusting to the heavy changes that come with adulthood, and it really doesn’t get more relatable than that. snapdragon is one local artist that can’t be slept on. These songs really spoke to me in a way that says… well, “chin up.” It’s a tender reminder that finding yourself alone can be scary and suffocating, but having the strength to be vulnerable and to learn to love yourself will keep you afloat. I wish these songs could’ve been here for me when I was 14, but I’m glad they’re here now. All this being wrapped up by easily the cutest album cover I’ve ever seen, I highly recommend checking this record out.

Morgan Gunning