Review: mazie’s “the rainbow cassette” Drips with Irony

You're gonna need the insulin ready.

Five years in the making, mazie’s the rainbow cassette embodies the near impossibility of adulthood in 2021. I get Regina Spektor meets Lisa Frank. I get prismatic depression coated in pink crystallized sugar. I get grownups in diapers, holding gigantic ketamine-laced lollipops, pretending to have some sort of upper hand. When I say it is grotesque, I mean it. Disclaimer: I might be too world-weary to understand or appreciate this, um, style of music-making. The way I sighed listening to this.

No track on the rainbow cassette is longer than 2.5 minutes, which feels indicative of our larger struggle to value longer works. There is no real conclusion to any of the tracks, and it reminds me of flipping through the cable stations (am I dating myself, yet again?). We are no longer a movie people. We’re no longer really a television series people. We’re a YouTubeTikTokIGTV people. The brevity of the EP was a relief, because each track is pure sugar and devoid of any nutritional value. It just makes me feel terrible, even if it tastes good–like six bowls of Fruity Pebbles. Poisoned by irony.

In “dumb dumb,” the refrain is “Everyone is dumb (dumb, dumb, dumb…la la la la la…).” According to mazie’s bio, this track was written and recorded the day after the Capitol insurrection, fully inspired by the event. I just don’t understand. Is that the takeaway? People are dumb? No shit.

“i think i wanna be alone” finds our singer pounding chords on a piano, “manic pixie dreaming of not being alone,” the track punctuated by circus horns, robot beep-boops, and frenetic, corny radio sound effekts. “The world is fucking terrible.” All the tracks peter out before their conclusion, just to move into a new mode of self-deprecation. In “sippy cup” (::sigh::), we find mazie lamenting, “Sippy cups on my bedroom floor / doing much worse than I was before.”

In its favor, I will say that the EP is certainly making interesting use of unusual samples and soundscape layering; she also has a nice voice and works in some pleasant harmonizing work.

In the end, this sort of irony only takes me so far, and admittedly, I’m likely not the audience for this kind of project. I am awash in irony on a daily basis, incapable of putting down my phone. Any electronic with a screen will assault me daily with one of two things: schmaltzy pseudo-emotionality or neon babydress hyperirony.

As I get older and continue to witness the growing infantilism this EP seems scaffolded with, the lower my tolerance gets for such self-indulgent antics. I’m so tired of antics and hyperreal aesthetics. This album makes me crave warm jazz and sepia tones. And I’m not here to judge coping mechanisms. God knows I have a silo full of them. But as a piece of art sent out into the world, I found the rainbow cassette sincerely lacking in substance. And I get it, I really do: transitioning into functioning adulthood during a pandemic and (inter)national implosion is incredibly difficult for most people my age and younger. But I’m done with the despairing baby shit. And something tells me mazie has it much better than most folks her age. It’s going to take a lot more than that to do something about ::motions around wildly:: this. And what this EP does do is so little and with too much.

Still, I know many folks who would enjoy this EP, and for good reasons that I can respect, so check it out tomorrow when it releases.

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