Austin quartet Why Bonnie expands their bedroom pop sensibilities with Voice Box, exploring the disconnect between our inner and outer selves. Why Bonnie started as the project of vocalist Blair Howerton, who found a collaborator with lifelong best friend and classically trained pianist Kendell Powell. Once guitarist Sam Houdek and bassist Chance Williams were added to the line-up, the group’s first two EPs quickly established their prowess for guitar pop with synth flourishes. Voice Box showcases a new confidence, despite the EP’s themes of isolation and uncertainty. Throughout, guitars bloom into ardent intensity to form intricate layers of sound.
Opener “Bury Me” is an earworm with a rollicking guitar line, accentuated by glossy synths. Howerton’s Mazzy Star-esque vocals propel the song forward, but she finds room to wander, letting her words drift as she sings “I used to feel so at home in this space.” There’s a subtle tension driving each track forward as Howerton’s search for clarity falls just tantalizingly out of reach. In “Athlete,” cranked out guitars and heavy percussion make the band’s comparisons to The Cranberries all the more readily apparent. During the song’s moments of relative calm, jittering buzzes give the melancholy musings more weight. The title track is an exercise in shimmering, warm distortion that defines the EP. Clear vocals give way to layers of processing that surround the song’s mantra: “I don’t wanna yell / Take my voice box out / I can’t control myself.” By the track’s conclusion, the vocals swirl together into indistinction as the hook bleeds into a sprawling minute of fuzzed-out guitars.
Review by Annie Lyons