As a child I used to unbutton my bed sheet and clamber inside the duvet, discovering an inner sanctum all of my own. I find myself back there, my body sinking into the exposed cover, my nose pressing against the sheet, whenever I listen to Bay Area’s Sour Widows. They define their style as ‘bedroom rock’, accurately noting that they “expose tender moments with an edge”.
It’s in the converging of Maia Sinaiko and Susanna Thomson’s voices where we feel that transition from tender to fraught. For the most part they reference the latent, assuredness of Faye Webster, yet on each of the EP’s six songs, they expel the breath they’ve been holding inside, a fiery passion ripping their throats raw as it escapes into the atmosphere.
While their vocal inflections might change, Sinaiko’s words all derive from the same place – the desire to mine and process their sharpest emotions. On ‘Whole Lotta Nothing’, they want to escape reality now that their lover has moved elsewhere, “I want to put my lights out” they yearn. Written “by and for my body”, ‘Open Wide’ sees Sinaiko reflect on an intense period where they finally came to understand themselves as a nonbinary trans person. “My body wants to let every fucking word fly”, they sing.
Sinaiko, Susanna Thomson and Max Edelman (Sour Widows) are longtime friends. Like inspirations Big Thief, their unbreakable bond is palpable in how their instruments enmesh and fold into one another. Sinaiko and Thomson harmonise like they’ve sang together their entire life. They’re each others shadow, exuding an intimate companionship as their voices spiral and float together. They both play guitar too, their velvety riffs recalling the puffy lines that trail in a plane’s wake, whilst Edelman’s drums never overawe, they sound dampened as if he’s laid towels atop their skins.
‘Pilot Light’, the EP’s most immediate track, impacted us so much when we first heard it that we hailed Sour Widows as one of our best new bands. We couldn’t have predicted that the rest of the EP’s tracks would actually surpass ‘Pilot Light’, that they’d transcend further, that they’d endure longer, that they’d lift us onto another plane entirely. ‘Sour Widows’ is a document of growth, of personal growth, of professional growth, of friends growing closer together. Cherish its every moment.
‘Sour Widows’ is out now