Coping Mechanism

Willow

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Coping Mechanism Review

by Neil Z. Yeung

Building upon the stylistic jump of 2021's Lately I Feel Everything, Willow takes that effort's pop-punk energy and aggressive rock spirit and bests it with her fifth full-length, Coping Mechanism. Sitting nicely beside contemporary releases by Poppy and Rina Sawayama, the set is a revelation in terms of artistic growth, packed with angst, frustration, and anger that Willow communicates with her heaviest songs to date. Metal riffs and post-punk atmospherics collide on " it's my fault," an ambitious blend of styles that somehow works to great effect. Meanwhile, "Falling Endlessly" starts off with pop-punk pep before quickly dropping into goth metal darkness. Just when it seems Willow might stop there, the song cracks open with a bright singalong chorus and a killer guitar solo. Each track on the album is a similar exercise that both honors its heavy influences and contemporizes those styles with a deft twist. In addition to the catchy tunes, Willow's vocals are also stretched to their limits, whipping between sweet falsetto and bloody screams on standouts such as "curious/furious" and the Evanescence-channeling "ur a ." "WHY?" sounds like Paramore meets Alice in Chains, the discordant harmonies and passionate emo delivery creating a storm that's backed by frantic drumming, while classic punk sneer elevates the pogo-bopping of the title track, "BATSHIT!," and "hover like a GODDESS." Classic '90s alternative rock is revitalized on "Split" as seamlessly as a storm of electro-industrial noise electrifies the standout "Perfectly Not Close to Me" with guest Yves Tumor. This head-spinning journey is a thrill to experience, and clocking in at less than a half-hour, it's fit for repeat listens. While much of Willow's charm lies in the way she can switch genres with ease, Coping Mechanism is so engaging that it'd be nice for her to stick to this sound for at least one more album before continuing her ever-riveting evolution.

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