Many of us have been granted with — for better or worse — a newfound trove of time to ourselves this year. In the beginning, I was optimistic about what that meant for my new music consumption capacity. At least, I thought, a life uninterrupted by parties and functions and voices and noise meant an endless string of opportunities for the undisturbed listening I crave.
But as real situations, real spaces, real rhythm, and real people began to fade as the weeks passed, so did much of the context I quickly realized was often essential to getting the most out of any given album. Music was, of course, still there, just as great as ever, and still being made by the minute, but the walls within I’d learned to savor it had crumbled, leaving nothing but my own unfocused mind and an endless catalogue at my fingertips to sort itself out together.
Luckily, there are entire albums best suited for walks and baths alone, whose songs favor headphones feeding into a preoccupied mind over speakers feeding into a wide room of milling people. And at some point in May just following its release, one of those albums, A.O. Gerber’s Another Place to Need, became a well-weathered friend of mine. The L.A.-based indie rocker recalls Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten or Waxahatchee, but flirts with an indulgence so sprawling it could give a collection of ’80s pop ballads a run for their money.
“What is there left to do but fall into the labyrinth of my mind?,” she pleads on “Every Time,” with the gusto of someone who’s already answered a question before they’ve posed it. Many of the songs feel like being dropped in the middle of Gerber’s mind labyrinth and being comforted by the fact that it, in all its brilliant honesty, looks familiar. “Tell Me,” a woozy one-woman waltz on percocet, walks a fine and undefined line of masturbatory motivations.
“It’s scary to admit to the dissonance that exists between self-pleasure and self-loathing—that I can simultaneously hate and love my own body, and that masturbation can be just as much about loneliness and longing as it is about sexual empowerment,” Gerber commented on the track.
It’s through a series of these scary admissions, dripping in the overflowing honey tone of her vocals and a series of incredible sonic summits, that I found Another Place to Need cozying into the creases of my own mind-labyrinth, and I'd advise anyone who hasn’t yet to allow it to do the same.