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The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Summer Sounds Bloom Early on Goth Babe’s First Album “Lola”

Summer Sounds Bloom Early on Goth Babe’s First Album Lola
Dylan Shobe

In late January, musician and Pacific Northwest drifter Goth Babe (Griffin Washburn) released his first debut album, Lola, named after the sailboat he currently sails up and down the Pacific Ocean. The long-awaited project comes after nine years releasing EP’s and singles that span a blend of alternative, indie and electronic genres. This album channels electronic energy born from his hit song “Weekend Friend,” and mixes it with an acoustic guitar to transcend the barriers between what sounds indie and EDM. It’s also no coincidence that the songs on the new record radiate the same sunshine seen on his sailboat. The tracks “Spinnaker Days” and “Baja” are products of their environment—Goth Babe’s sailing journey from San Diego, CA to Baja, Mexico—and the setting essential in understanding why I believe this album will take over the 2024 summer.

The album comes in at an LP-like length of 11 tracks in 41 minutes, featuring three songs, “Backwards,” “Bioluminescence” and “Alone in the Mountains,” which originate from a sneak peek EP released earlier in the year.

Starting with “Neon Trees,” Lola meets the ears with soundbites of tweeting birds, the strum of Babe’s guitar and long drawn out vocals. The beat and electronic side of him lingers in the background, seeming almost like it’s trying to break into the focal point. But it doesn’t, not yet at least. 

Leave it to the next track, “Crocodile,” to do just that. It begins with the guitar but pretty quickly Babe drops the beat, letting the bass drive the song into its first electronic trance. What follows next is a catchy pre-chorus where electronics fade and his moody dialogue beautifully plays back-and-forth between the beat and the song’s early guitar melody. Before you think it couldn’t get any better, the guitar switches course and the plucking gets significantly louder, elevating the power of the pre-chorus. This song is just one of many on the album that feels like it was made strictly for summer concert sets and sunny house parties. 

More sunny standouts on the album include “Spinnaker Days,” and as you can guess, “Sun Comes Up.” Both tease the listener early by withholding their beat drops and crescendo into fast-paced indie electronic tracks that justify upping the volume, rolling down your windows and opening the sunroof if you choose to play them in the car. Each track also exemplifies one of his best abilities as an artist, choosing when to ride the beat and when to let his instrumental show off on its own. He lets listeners enjoy the back end of the songs as if they are instrumental versions and calculates his choruses to wrap around the cadence and bass of the song. 

While I’ve commended this album’s ability to capture the elements of summer and deliver it in sound, you also have to respect how the record spikes different moods into the mix. The first song to introduce a mellowed out piano and verses is also the only one that Goth Babe put a feature on. WATTS appears in the middle of “Backwards,” a track thematically defined by his verse. He discusses how relationships evolve quickly in highly edited vocals that feel overstylized. WATTS’s verse and Babe’s chorus fit together for what “Backwards” was trying to achieve, yet both of them are a step out of place on Lola for me. Yet even in criticism, this is the only spot on the album that underperforms. 

Certain tunes that effectively stick to Lola’s concepts but exert something other than EDM hype are “Orcas” and “Insides.” For “Insides,” moody and long vocals take center stage, but they feel natural and play over the acoustic guitar and new percussion. But for the strictly instrumental “Orcas,” it’s a somber and calm exploration of his abilities on the guitar that acts as not only a break from the mosh pits, but an intermission for the album since it comes in exactly halfway through.

Good albums just sound good. But what great albums can do is sound good in addition to creating their own distinct ambience beyond the sounds. This is exactly what Goth Babe has managed to do in just his first album. From mellowed out acoustics to the blending of alternative, indie and electronic dance, Lola is an important centerpiece to Goth Babe’s resume, electronic music and summer playlists. 

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