Partisan Records is probably the label of the hour. Or strictly speaking of the past years. While their label catalog may be relatively small, it is filled with top-tier artists. With Fontaines D.C. and Idles on their roster, they have two bands that have consistently appeared in nearly all relevant Album of the Year lists in recent years. In addition, they have fan favorites and critically acclaimed artists like Cigarettes After Sex, Chubby & The Gang or Just Mustard, who made a significant breakthrough last year, on their roster. All of these bands had their albums flying off the shelves at Dodo Beach record store during my time there.
Heartache with an instinct for compelling melodies
Now the next release from Partisan Records has landed on the record shelves with Blondshell and her self-titled debut album. And what can I say? The label clearly has an unerring instinct for great music. But let’s take it step by step.
Blondshell is the 25-year-old singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum. After initial forays into dark pop music, the pandemic led to a reorientation of her music. She cites 90s alternative rock influences such as Hole, PJ Harvey and Patti Smith. After listening, I would also add Courtney Barnett as a reference. Or Momma, who emerged on my musical map in 2022 with their outstanding album “Household Name,” which was one of my most listened-to vinyl records of the year.
The underlying theme of the debut album is admittedly not particularly original: a broken relationship. However, it doesn’t matter when it is executed so beautifully in the nine songs, both musically and lyrically.
„I’m going back to him / I know my therapist’s pissed / We both know he’s a dick / At least it’s the obvious kind (…) He wears a front-facing cap / The sex is almost always bad / I don’t care ‚cause I’m in love / I don’t know him well enough / What am I projecting? / He’s gonna start infecting my life / It will hit all at once like sepsis.“
In addition to toxic relationships the songs touch on her own alcohol abuse (she has been sober since 2020), murder fantasies, gender and empowerment and, of course, fears and traumas. Despite the underlying anger that is musically accentuated, she confronts these emotions with a sober wit. I highly recommend reading the lyric sheets. Even in the quiet moments, her own vulnerability resonates. This is evident in the closing track, “Dangerous,” which has ingrained its sugary hook directly into my ears. “And it’s so dangerous / Forming an attachment to something / Know that every time I love it might pull the rug out.“
If you like boygenius, you will love Blondshell
The aim of Vinyl Fantasy Mag is to select albums as vinyl of the week that not only impress musically, but also may not be on everyone’s radar. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but featuring new albums from Depeche Mode and Metallica or – if we take a look at the current release week – Daughter and Mudhoney, seems rather uninteresting to me. Everyone already knows their music and every magazine or music blog is writing a review.
This is also the main reason I didn’t choose the latest record from boygenius as vinyl of the week. I’ve seen dozens of photos of the various vinyl colors of “the record” on my Instagram timeline, and the band is being celebrated on all channels. And rightly so, don’t get that wrong! But this magazine doesn’t need to join in the praises of a great album. Instead, I’d prefer to introduce a singer-songwriter like Blondshell, who has had little media presence so far. I haven’t come across a single photo of her vinyl on Instagram, which is a shame in my opinion.
The press release of the album ends with a line about Blondshell being a “hidden gem in the indie sky of 2023.” Naturally, as a label, you have to write such things. But after listening to the album, I must say that Partisan Records has once again discovered a musical treasure here. We can only hope to hear more from Sarah Teitelbaum in the future. The foundation has definitely been laid with this fantastic debut album.
In record stores only available on clear vinyl
At your local record store the vinyl of the week is available in only one color variant: clear vinyl. It’s currently sold out in many shops, but according to the distributor, there will be a restock soon. If you’re not a fan of the vinyl color, you can also purchase the black vinyl variant directly from Partisan Records. They also have an edition of the album on cassette.