Lavender is the third full-length by Half Waif, a project led by Nandi Rose Plunkett of indie folk-rock outfit Pinegrove. An outlet for her own songwriting and experimentation, it's a different creature from her other band, despite the involvement of drummer Zack Levine and bassist Adan Carlo, also of Pinegrove. Half Waif relies heavily on synths and processed sounds, though its delicate textures are enhanced by acoustic instruments, including drums. Lavender's 12 tracks are reflective ones that explore themes like beginnings and endings, relationships, and the search for one's place in it all. The opening track, "Lavender Burning," has Plunkett remembering her grandmother, alongside flickering synth tones. It eventually introduces the album's high-contrast arrangements when deep bass and drum tones join ethereal keys and layered vocals. Later, "Lilac House" opens with a pulsing beat and '80s-era keyboard timbres before offering more of Plunkett's silky, harmonized vocals. A classically trained singer, she plays with the presentation of her voice on the album, sometimes crossing the threshold of mere human near-flawlessness into a synthetic space that blends with keyboards. A piano ballad with more natural, impassioned vocals, "Back in Brooklyn" provides some respite from the otherworldliness that populates the majority of Lavender, though it's not without its own subtle manipulations. Throughout, very human lyrics, wistful intervals, a mechanical palette, and components that are sometimes altered to confuse organic and inorganic make for an elegant synth art-pop. Like the world her lyrics inhabit, it is icy and intimate at once.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson