Marvel Monday :: our thoughts on Agents of SHIELD season 4

23 May

Bullet-pointed for… something.

  • So, Daisy’s arc sort of got shoved to the side for most of this season, which. Alright. But she did have some great scenes with Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna), including the scene where they fight and she begs him to kill her (the spirit refuses, as it only kills those who have done things worthy of punishment). Daisy and Robbie had great chemistry together, and watching them work together in the season finale was a real treat. She also (along with Jemma [Elizabeth Henstridge]) was spared the uploading into the Framework (more on this in a minute), and together they worked to break everyone out. Some jackass decided Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) should come back in the Framework, and though she made it clear she wanted nothing to do with Ward anymore, the one misstep in her character development was when she said something OOC about how she “didn’t fully understand” the real Ward. Frustrating, but my only huge issue with her this season. They’re heading towards making her director of SHIELD, which I really hope is how the show ends.
  • Ultimately the main antagonist of this season was AIDA/Madame Hydra (Mallory Jansen). Yeah, it threw me for a loop when they announced that she’d be taking that role on in the Framework, but ultimately it made sense (more on this in a minute) and damn if Mallory Jansen is not just the most fun to watch. Over the course of the season she goes from being an amiable, if sometimes unnerving, android created by Radcliffe (John Hannah) for the purpose of protecting and defending agents (allegedly), so in effect a bulletproof lab assistant, to a thoroughly deranged character in the Framework, to a gosh darn real girl with all sorts of anger issues and raging hormones for Fitz. Who’s also got, thanks to the Framework and the Darkhold and other sinister things, most of the superpowers we’ve seen now-gone characters on the show have. She also adopts the name “Ophelia,” which I read too much into like a smarty, and turns on her creator for “demeaning” her by treating her like a robot. There kept being interesting little threads of possibility with her, some of which were followed through on and some of which were too damn meta for a television show to touch, but the true joy of this arc is Mallory Jansen’s performance. Part of me misses the bulletproof lab assistant because robot girls are fun, but also, AIDA was the most delightful antagonist we’ve seen thus far and also contributed to the undoing of… well.
  • Leopold James Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) – James, because there weren’t already twenty of those in the MCU – is on a downward trajectory. That’s putting it mildly. The beginning of the season saw Fitz lying to everyone and helping Radcliffe to build and program AIDA, despite a two-minute flash of conscience in the season premiere where he pointed out that after things like, y’know, Ultron, it probably wouldn’t be a great idea for a criminal scientist already in hot water to build a freaking robot. But all it took was a calm, pleasant explanation from AIDA and suddenly he was all aboard the robot train. As the season develops, he does such super-awesome things as guilt Daisy about her running away from SHIELD, expect his girlfriend Jemma to shoulder the burden of all of his emotional problems, save the decapitated head of the first AIDA model despite everyone including Jemma saying to destroy it but he thinks he can do something to help… and then in the Framework, he’s a sadistic torturing Nazi who happens to be fucking the same robot he’s gotten into so much trouble with already, but it’s okay because there she’s real, and using Darkhold tech he makes her a real body, which I don’t think I have to explain is the worst possible idea.
  • The Framework, as designed by Radcliffe and implemented by AIDA (the degree to which the design was modified by AIDA is somewhat unclear), was based on the premise that everyone whose consciousnesses were originally plugged in deserved to live in a nice happy digital computer world where their greatest regret was taken away. Or what Radcliffe perceived as their greatest regret. Some of these were totally reasonable – May (Ming-Na Wen) still regretting Bahrain, Mack (Henry Simmons) regretting that his daughter didn’t live past infancy, Mace (Jason O’Mara) regretting that he lied about being an Inhuman – and some were… something else. Coulson (Clark Gregg) regretted not living a “normal life” (since when was this a thing of his? Since about the episode before the Framework was revealed) and Fitz regretted… not growing up with his father. These daddy issues entered into play this season as well, and I’d previously been under the impression that he was content to have grown up with his mother, especially since according to exposition from Jemma his father was at the very least verbally abusive, but apparently not. And apparently growing up and remaining very close with his father, a class-A douchebag, led to Fitz… being a sadistic torturing Nazi. One who was nicknamed “the Doctor” no less, because that’s totally not sinister in this context. “I’m just like Ward,” he said after exiting the Framework, reflecting on the situation. Yes, yes you are, my ex-buddy, and here is why: not only did his daddy issues then shape the entire Framework into a totalitarian fascist hellscape where Inhumans were hunted and SHIELD, having been successfully taken over by Hydra, was a scrappy band of underground resistance fighters, but he…
    • Tortured (avatars of) Inhumans, several of which he later realized he’d known IRL.
    • Shot Agnes, who was the RL woman Sandwiches had modeled AIDA’s likeness on and whose consciousness and life, after she passed away IRL from a brain tumor, was uploaded to the Framework – ergo, he killed a woman.
    • Tortured Daisy, which didn’t actually harm Daisy’s RL body but if he had killed her it would in fact kill RL her because if your consciousness was plugged into the Framework if you died there you died IRL, so that was a near miss.
    • Ordered an op that ultimately killed Jeffrey Mace.
    • (As mentioned) plotted to build and then did build tech using the Darkhold, the spoopiest book of all time, to create an actual human body in the real world that would also be endowed with superpowers from all the Inhumans he’d tortured to death, so she could in effect take over the world that had done her wrong. (Even now I’m not entirely clear on how much of what ~Ophelia did in the Framework was actually AIDA and how much was a program, but either way – not great.)
    • After Jemma shot (the avatar of) his father in self-defense after trying to get him to cooperate with their goal of rescuing everyone from the Framework, Fitz tracked Jemma down and despite her screaming that IRL they were together and blah blah love blah blah he shot her (avatar) in the leg and very nearly shot her in the head and killed her. Would have likely done had Radcliffe’s avatar not intervened.
    • Oh, and I forgot to mention: while Daisy had been doing the non-terrigenesis’d totalitarian equivalent of what she does now in the Framework, Jemma was literally dead to begin with. When she awoke in the Framework she clawed her way out of a shallow mass grave. In the Framework, she and Fitz had never known each other. Despite the way that a robot version of Fitz tried to consentingly lure Jemma into the Framework with promises of happiness and marriage.
    • And the real kicker of this is: while the other people plugged into the Framework had grand revelations that either it was not a real place (Coulson) or their actions there were bad (May) or some other knowing moment of oh, shit… Fitz did not. Multiple times Fitz was given a chance to go oh, shit and repent. He did not. Also, several other characters had moments of ~knowing each other~ from RL contexts despite not knowing each other (Coulson remembered Daisy, May remembered Coulson, there was an implied flash of deja vu between Mack and Elena [Natalia Cordova-Buckley]) but Fitz looked Jemma in the eye and said that she meant nothing to him.
  • Ask us about our anti-Fitz feminist agendas.
  • In happier news, there were very good moments for the other members of the team! Coulson was a giant nerd in the Framework, which was sort of endearing; Trip (B.J. Britt) was still alive in the Framework and I miss him already; despite being the first to be replaced with a robot and hooked into the Framework, May still kicked some ass and was good; Mack and Elena are actually completely adorable together even though we all thought Mack was probably gay and we can’t even be mad that he too got roped into heterosexuality because they’re actually wonderful together; Mack was adorable and tragic with his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera) in the Framework, even though they named her Hope when there’s already two different other Hopes in the MCU; Elena and Agent Piper (Briana Venskus) were precious and capable protecting Jemma and Daisy while they were in the Framework; Jemma my beloved was forced to sit through a lot of compulsive heterosexuality but nonetheless she was strong and badass and very good at what she needed to do.
  • But romantic FitzSimmons is dead. It needs to be dead. It needed to be dead before it even began, but it especially needs to be dead now. If any time is expended on any of the women, but especially Jemma, assuaging Fitz’s guilt complex next season, I will scream. He deserves to be guilty because he Did A Bad and while he seems perfectly capable of admitting IRL that he Did A Bad and that he was responsible for AIDA’s less than stellar changes, he never once said “I’m sorry.” He did say “I think I’m a bad person” and that’s pretty accurate. Sorry, ex-buddy.
  • The finale ended with everybody being arrested in a diner because everyone thinks SHIELD are bad guys again. And then it flashed forward an indeterminate amount of time to show Coulson on what appeared to be a spaceship, looking out at the vastness of space before getting up and “getting to work” in what seemed to be some kind of prison. I’ve seen buzz that this is leading up to SWORD, basically the intergalactic version of SHIELD, but nobody’s confirmed that one way or the other. We also have no idea if what Coulson is seeing is actually real or if he’s been put back into some kind of virtual reality or simulation to serve his punishment in. And we don’t know where anyone else is either. (We have awhile to think about it, since the show won’t be back until January 2018. Because ABC and Marvel are still trying to make Inhumans happen. It’s not going to happen.)

–your fangirl heroines.


Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [This Is Where It Ends]

18 May

So. I called the unpleasant ~surprise of this one pretty early on, and part of me wishes it hadn’t been there because it could have been avoided, but given the cast of characters and what they were capable of it made sense. I didn’t like it, but it made sense. My only real complaint is that it wasn’t fully dealt with, that is, it didn’t have all of the effects it could have and went largely unknown by most of the cast, and that’s something I also get but I kind of wish it had been different. But oh well.

Overall, this was a good book. I wanted to get that first bit out of the way, but it wasn’t enough to seriously detract from my enjoyment of the story. Enjoyment is the wrong word when you’re talking about a book that deals with school shootings and all sorts of auxiliary terrible things, but still. Whatever the equivalent. I’m glad I read it, and it was an important and interesting story.

Because even for the thing I was vaguely referring to in the first paragraph, or the fact that it’s about a school shooting, or the auxiliary terrible things that happen surrounding the events of the actual story (told in real-time, as it were, with shifting POVs and social media interjections – an effective way of keeping up the intensity and breathlessness and frantic pace of what was going on) the thing is… yes. All of that is bad. But it happens. It happens, and people still have to face those things, and it’s ultimately a story not about those things but about how they shape people and how people fight through and heal. And that’s what matters most, I think.

There are parts that were a little uneven, I think; a lot of the stuff with Claire, the track star-slash-shooter’s ex, didn’t feel entirely developed, like you’d gone from a to c without fully explaining b, and some of the drama between the Sylv and Autumn, or Sylv and Tomas, went in vague circles. (Also, it’s none of my business but what is it with characters in these YA books going by nicknames that awkwardly chop their two-syllable name into one syllable that ends with a v. Far From You had Trev, which made me angry. Sylv is a little better, but – I don’t know, it just feels abrupt. This is a weird etymological pet peeve of mine I guess. It’s not a flaw in the writing. Just my brain being odd.)

But ultimately, the pacing is really unique and the subject matter is important and Sylv and Autumn are very good Sapphic girls and I just wanted them to be happy. And Claire’s heterosexuality wasn’t even particularly cringeworthy, so good job, Marieke Nijkamp. (Sidenote: I also adore your first name, Marieke Nijkamp. That’s just really pretty.)

–your fangirl heroine.


Television Tuesday :: on Brooklyn Nine-Nine (in haiku)

9 May

I care about girls.
I rarely care about boys.
But here, I totes do.

Boyle is a mess and
Sometimes he makes me cringe, yeah.
But he is not bad.

Terry is splendid.
The opposite of toxic

Captain Holt kicks ass.
His differences are a part
But not all of him.

Jake is feminist.
He has grown as a person
And he is better.

And the girls, of course!
There are girls and I love them,
Always and deeply.

Gina is so odd
Because she’s flawed but also
She is woke as hell.

Rosa could kill you
But she could also kill you
With how much she cares.

And Amy speaks to
Me in a personal way.
I too am Mary Anne.

Point is: this show wins.
The representation and
The spirit and joy.

–your fangirl heroine.


Spoiler Alert Saturday :: our thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

6 May

So, here’s the thing about James Gunn as a filmmaker. James Gunn really likes several things: music, explosions, sexy women, over-the-top violence and/or gore, and jokes. I like all of those things, sometimes, in some contexts. The problem is that James Gunn likes them all the time, even when the plot would perhaps be better served by focusing on something else. And that’s kind of my problem with both Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

This one is…about what I expected. It’s about Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) coming to terms with his long-buried daddy issues, but it’s also trying to be a story about found family, but it’s also trying to be a story about assholes who turn out to be jerks with hearts of gold, but it’s also trying to be a story about forgiveness and redemption, but it’s also a story about shitty people who kind of dislike each other coming together and admitting they all love each other anyway because they’re a family. Oh and it’s also a comedy, and it’s also a movie where hundreds of people die horrifically onscreen. Yeah.

And there are parts of it that are great! There are. Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is absolutely wonderful and the bits with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are heartwrenching; the soundtrack is a lot of fun and space sure is pretty. There are some funny jokes. Ego (Kurt Russell) was a well-acted, if terrifying, villain and also at one point a glowy octopus. It’s… fine. It’s what it is. But it’s also got the aforementioned horrific deaths, a narratively underutilized planet of gold and crazy eugenicist people, a damn raccoon who needed to not, way too many moments devoted to relishing the surprise manpain of men whose pain probably wasn’t actually necessary to the story and usually involved daddies, and the actual canonical use of the word “daddy.” So it’s a mixed bag.

Mantis is Ego’s adopted indentured servant (it makes sense in context), having been found in infancy and raised by him. (This continues the theme of this subfranchise’s women being unnervingly characterized by the men who controlled and abused them. This is true of Nebula and Gamora, of course, and this is true of my poor beloved pink rageball Carina [Ophelia Lovibond], whose rebellion against her – let’s not mince words – captor killed her spectacularly. It’s an uncomfortable trend, although Carina is its only complete casualty so far.) She is charmingly ignorant in regards to social interactions (similarly to Drax [Dave Bautista]) and wants very badly to make friends and please people. She is an empath, who can pick up on others’ emotions by touch and share emotions with them, as well as ease the pain of others and send them to sleep. Because she’s been so isolated, she believes everything she’s told without question. This could easily have gone several horrifying directions, but fortunately the movie didn’t do that. Her arc in this movie is about learning what love and friendship are, and how to stand up to her master and help her new friends defeat him. She even gets a heroic moment at the end where she has to use her powers against her master for the first time ever. She and Drax bond and by the end have become close friends – luckily the film heads off any romantic subplot with them right away. He finds her physically repulsive, and she agrees – “I don’t even like the type of thing that you are!” (We, naturally, took this to mean she’s gay.)

Gamora, in the film’s opening scene, has clearly become comfortable with both her role as a Guardian and her teammates. She’s sarcastic but she clearly gives a shit, and indeed she’s still (surprise) the more capable fighter in many regards. She’s practical. She’s kickass. She gets straight to the point in dealing with the High Priestess of the Sovereign (Elizabeth Debicki), who are those creepy gold people we’re going to talk about in a minute. She’s honestly the only thing that’s keeping these idiots together, which would be – not charming, exactly, but fine, if it wasn’t so clearly just the woman carrying the emotional burden of everyone. She rolls her eyes so much that someone’s mother from the 1960s probably shouted, spiritually, about them getting stuck that way. And she’s back in the company of her adopted sister Nebula, looking to collect a bounty on her head (allegedly – I don’t know what they actually intended to imply but in my emotionally optimistic read there is at least a part of Gamora that had no such intention, having never given up on Nebula). Nebula in this movie is maybe even more angry than she was in the first movie, if that’s possible. They did give her slightly more motivation and a better arc this time, though, as it explains that as children Thanos used to make them fight each other, and every time Gamora beat her Thanos would remove a part of Nebula’s body and replace it with robotics to “make her better.” At one point she screams at Gamora “I just wanted a sister!” The scene where they talk about this is really lovely, tragic and full of pathos. (Unfortunately it’s spoiled by a quick cut to another fight scene.) I wanted more scenes with the two of them, but I’m happy with what we got. I hope my suspicion about Nebula’s fate in future movies isn’t correct, because I want them to be able to be happy and safe together.

Kurt Russell’s Ego is equal parts ridiculously cheesy and horrifying. He gives the character a nice air of menace that manages to carry it through the silliest moments (including one where his planet-self grows a face and begins to talk). Some of the effects were really iffy, especially once where he rebuilds his human body and we see each layer of muscle, bone, and so forth growing. I think this was supposed to be scary, and it is unnerving, but the CGI looks like mid-2000s SyFy Channel Movie nonsense, and also he is a walking talking skeleton at one point and that is just absurd. Or, in its glowing blue space light form, his body resembles our old friend the Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, only blue instead of red, which means that I was incapable of taking it seriously. But the character… well, when he’s not working that charismatic asshole vibe of his (I’m biased; my first real exposure to the man was Death Proof and I can never unsee that) he manages to hit a lot of really awful buttons. A thesis of the MCU seems to be, by and large, that dads are bad. This is not to say that daddy issues are something I want to watch a movie about ever again, because they’re not, but daddy issues are only a part of the problem. Daddy issues are on the part of the child relating to the dad; most MCU dads (with the notable exceptions of Mike Peterson [J. August Richards] and Framework!Mack [Henry Simmons] in Agents of SHIELD) are bad at relating not only to their child(ren) but to the other people around them, as well as their environments. Ego takes that to the next level, and let me just say that his name is not a coincidence (of course it’s not, because there is no subtlety in these names).

The Sovereign is a planet and also a race of people. They are, as I mentioned, gold. Their hair is gold, their skin is gold, their eyes are gold, their clothing is at least somewhat gold, a lot of their surroundings are gold. They are also, by the admission of their High Priestess, carefully engineered for perfection and specific purposes from their conceptions, which are artificial and seem absolutely terrifying. Hence, eugenics. They’re frightful snobs and much is made of this; they don’t take well to loss or slights. Why? Because they’re frightful snobs, I guess. My disappointment here is that I could very easily see how Elizabeth Debicki could be an absolute delight as a shiny space villainess, because there were moments of very good crazy in her eyes, but her function in the plot was weirdly tertiary; my horror here is, well, eugenics.

Rocket continues to be irritating. I do not understand why he is the mascot of this franchise.

Also, Gunn has a weird relationship with death, which is to say that he seems to think gratuitous, horrifying death is funny? Like, there’s an extended sequence of Ravagers putting one of their own out an airlock and then the camera pans out and you see a trail of bodies behind that one, maybe thirty or forty people, and you definitely watch that one guy as he freezes to death in space, and it’s just really unpleasant. Then immediately after this Rocket starts making fun of a guy called Taserface. There is also a scene where Yondu (Michael Rooker) uses his arrow that responds to whistling to murder everyone who mutinied against him, which I think was meant to be funny? The song playing is certainly upbeat. But I did not enjoy it at all. This movie probably has the highest onscreen body count in the MCU and most of it was just played like a joke, and that made me uneasy.

–your fangirl heroines.


Theatre Thursday :: the 2017 Tony nominees

4 May

Or: I am woefully out of the damn loop.

I saw earlier this week that the theatre people I follow on Instagram were posting about nominations going up and I got excited. It’s that time of year again! But then I realized, I know virtually nothing right now. I have friends who saw Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and didn’t have stellar things to say. I know who of the theatre people I follow was in what or what their friends were in. I know who I know is good from prior audience experience.

I think I’m going to have to set aside time to listen to everything this year. I think I’m just going to have to.

I’ll report back.

–your fangirl heroine.


Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [Girl Mans Up]

27 Apr

So I think my biggest takeaway from this novel is: wow, man, toxic masculinity is the worst. But there’s a lot more to it, too.

This is a book about Pen, a rather tomboyish, butch enough to be androgynous girl who’s spent her whole life being friends with boys and getting both treated like a boy and asked if she wants to be a boy.  To complicate matters, she comes from a traditional Portuguese family keen on their own idea of respect, which doesn’t include dressing like her brother. And, thank goodness, she’s queer. (There are too many stories, in my opinion, that rely on the “so what if I’m butch, I really do like boys!” trope, I suppose in an attempt not to seem “stereotypical.” I’m sure there are butch girls who like boys. I’m not disputing that. But there are also butch girls who like girls, and that’s what I want to read about.) She doesn’t really stick to one label to describe her own sexuality, but queer is the closest; in any event, she’s interested in dating and having sexual relations with girls. In this way it’s a fairly standard coming-of-age story, but a well-drawn one.

There are also a lot of situations surrounding gender politics, which – okay, well, obviously, but it’s still really interesting. More than once Pen is asked if she’s trans, at least once by someone entirely well-meaning and understanding, but she states repeatedly that she’s a girl. She’s just a girl who likes “boy things,” aesthetically and recreationally. Her sexuality is often interpreted by others as being a part of this – i.e. she dresses like a boy because she wants romance with girls – but she also states that the two things are unrelated. They just are. She also debates with herself about relationship terminology, about how she wants to be her girlfriend’s boyfriend and things like that, which is something I can guarantee you wouldn’t have been reading ten years ago but I’m sure it’s something some people have to think about.  This sort of internal monologue regarding gender fluidity isn’t something you hear in stories very often, but it’s also interesting to me personally because I’m nowhere near butch myself and these are things I never really had to think about in my own coming-of-age. It’s important to have different perspectives than your own, even about something you’re still pretty close to.

I was also sort of delighted that the process of her being interested in and dating a girl was relatively drama-free, or better put the drama involved very decidedly did not involve the girlfriend, Blake, having a crisis of sexuality. Those are legitimate, and it’s good to have them reflected in media, I’m not saying it’s not, but I also really appreciate when the parties in question are both comfortable from the get-go because that happens too. Not every queer story is a coming-out story.

I also appreciated that a lot of the conflicts in the story were resolved but not perfectly, because, again, that’s how life often is. Pen is happy at the end of the story, but it’s not like everything magically resolved.

But, in addition to the family conflicts and gender conflicts mentioned above, the other main source of tension throughout the narrative is Pen’s relationship with her guy friends, primarily the ringleader, Colby. He looks out for her in some ways at the beginning of the book, but not very well, and he honestly struck me as a grade-A douche from the beginning because he makes all of his friends do things for him as a show of “loyalty.” I kept thinking, the way he was talking, that they were going to turn out to be in some kind of gang, but no. He’s just a womanizing douche who basically turns on her the minute she starts to go against his make-believe code.

And this is where the toxic masculinity bit comes in. Because she wants to play with the boys, she has to go by their bro code. She’s constantly framing things in ways that I’d cringe at if she was actually a guy, using terms that often make me uncomfortable. She’s got this programming that being one of the guys involves being, honestly, kind of a jerk, which is in part because of Colby’s bullshit “loyalty” thing and in part because, honestly, a lot of guys are kind of gross. Her older brother isn’t gross, though! He is part of the very positive influence in her life to unlearn bad behavior and he’s very supportive.

All in all, I’m very impressed, and I feel like I learned a thing or two along the way.

–your fangirl heroine.


Music Monday :: my thoughts on Hopeless Romantic

24 Apr

Disclaimed: I have not listened to Michelle Branch since high school (like, Hotel Paper) but Tegan and Sara rec’d the new album so here I am.

“Best You Ever.” This is a lot more… Jenny Lewis-y than old Michelle Branch. I’m not complaining! I love me some Jenny Lewis, too. And Michelle Branch can totally evolve and stuff. This is yummy.

“You’re Good.” Also the Grace Potter solo record. This is sort of sinuous and seventies. And I really really like this this is sweet.

“Fault Line.” Her voice is a little breathy but this is really sweet it really is. This doesn’t have a damn bit of the twang she was tending toward in the old days but I like “it’s too late to be the first to walk away” and all of this is really cute.

“Heartbreak Now.” “You’re my one obsession, you’re my daydream in the afternoon” oh my goodness this is cute too. Even though this song is a little more bittersweet.

“Hopeless Romantic.” I just want to stay up in this. I want to just groove on this. I’m going to need to put this on repeat and soak it up but I really like this. God, I’m so out of practice album reviewing but it’s so delicious. I’m going to find uses for all of this.

“Living a Lie.” Awww this is so cute and retrofuturist. I just really like this vibe I like that this is a thing now. This should have been here for my Bobbi mix but I bet I can still find a use OH MY GOD I HAVE A USE.

“Knock Yourself Out.” Oh my god. “In the dark I can feel the weight of the world pushing down on top of my shoulders. You think you’re strong enough to carry it all, go ahead, knock yourself out.” On “shoulders” I got a big old hit of nostalgia. I miss oldschool Michelle Branch. I should clarify: I have not listened to any new Michelle Branch albums prior to this one since Hotel Paper but I still definitely play the first two sometimes. I am deeply sentimental about old-school Michelle Branch. “I see beauty in resistance” damn, girl, you’re hitting my buttons.

“Temporary Feeling.” This is weirdly… sexy? But not, but yes? I’m not sure. It feels slinky even though it’s not. “You think its only physical until we make it chemical” augh yes. And the doo-doo-doos are just so cute. This is definitely soulmates with Grace Potter’s Midnight. Damn.

“Carry Me Home.” This is all so damn cute. It just is. There’s a really amazing bit of vintage to this. “And in the morning I’m just chasing shadow, I think I love you, but what do I know.” She’s dipping her voice in the nicest way on parts of this chorus. Especially the end with an extra “the hell” thrown in there.

“Not a Love Song.” This sounds really happy considering it’s kind of a fuck-you song. Like, Sara Bareilles-style happy fuck you. We need more of that in the world and it really works out. What a great. “You’re just somebody that I wasted my youth on.

“Last Night.” Wow, this is a very similar sentiment to a track off Grace Potter’s Midnight. Also an Elle King song. Also also also. It’s a little more fatalistic and relationship-driven but it works. “We’re gonna light up on the night sky.” I like that.

“Bad Side.” This feels a little mellower now for reasons I can’t explain. “Let your demons play with mine.” Cute even though it’s really not? Like this isn’t a nice thing but it’s still really cute?

“Shadow.” Ooh, heavenly ohs and ahs. “You’re a book and I have memorized every page” and “because the night is just Earth’s shadow falling on you” and “look how the stars are suspended in space, you can try to explain as you’re losing your faith. And you can search all you want, find all the answers. You fell in love with a girl, that’s all that matters.” Das gay. I’m assuming das gay because there are not any gendered pronouns anywhere else.

“City.” Groooovy. “That somewhere down the darkest alley is a heartbeat” well okay! This is pretty. There’s a dude here too I think? I don’t know who.

–your fangirl heroine.