Unlike the days when women were forced to be polite within their music, the current rock scene has welcomed Lauren Lakis for her unapologetic approach to writing and creating music for the masses. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, the singer’s musical foundation is rooted in themes about fatalism and growth, inspiring her listeners to reset their minds and attitudes.
Receiving acclaim from music publications— Wonderland Magazine, Flaunt and LADYGUNN—in the past for her previous works like 2018’s “Ferocious” and 2021’s “Daughter Language,” Lakis has returned to the music scene with her newest album, “A Fiesta and a Hell.”
Recorded, produced and mixed alongside Carey McGraw (Wild Child, Josie Lockhart), Elliot Frazier (Ringo Deathstarr, Blushing) and Christopher Colbert (Mazzy Star, Starflyer 59, Leon Bridges) in Austin, Texas, the new release dropped Oct. 6. Starring nine emotive tracks, the singer seems to have found inspiration from the 1980s punk-goth scene.
“Take My Hand” is one of the recent breakout singles on the album, with Lakis telling Guitar Girl Magazine it’s about “forgetting what you thought you knew, letting go, bravely opening your mind to something radically different.” With dark synths and the singer’s grave echoes, it feels like you’re entering a new world, one that isn’t judgmental or worrisome. Using simple lyricism, it’s a great way to introduce the first half of the album.
Meanwhile, “Terror Tears” and “Keep Your Woman Down” are more upbeat, integrating bass guitar riffs and eerie production to emphasize Lakis’ message of wanting to separate oneself from the real world. She sings, “Believe happily ever after / Certain wounds cut deep / Force fed words I never stood by / I don’t wanna die / I don’t wanna succumb / No, I don’t wanna go,” which alludes to the ways in which society forces norms onto women.
Similarly, the latter track sticks with this theme, as Lakis cries out about the hardships of womanhood. It’s one of the heaviest songs on the record, making its impact worthy of praise and attention, especially from a female-identifying perspective.
"Loud Voices" is another upbeat song that subtly borrows from the punk genre. The track beautifully demonstrates Lakis’ vocal control with meticulously practiced riffs in a broad range. The imagery of the song aligns perfectly with the track’s name, featuring unrelenting guitar and bass melodies that distinctly accompany the singer's defiant voice.
The last original song on the album, titled "Leave Your Window Open," shifts to a slower tone, while still simmering with passion. The pounding drums and halftime breakdowns in the chorus create a sense of urgency that affirms the song's goal of putting a sinister twist on a typical love song. Lakis’ vocals are presented through a translucent sheen that is emblematic of alt-pop princess Lana Del Rey. She defies the norms of female singers by showcasing her alto sound as opposed to a lofted, soprano tone, which furthers her dedicated feminist agenda.
The last track is similar to the album’s first track, "Watch You Run," an ethereal song that highlights the aesthetic of music rather than the technicality of it. Both numbers are immersive listens and demonstrate Lakis’ truly unique ability to create a musical world using her talent and skills.
The last three tracks on the album are remixes of “Terror Tears,” “Take My Hand” and “Keep Your Woman Down,” featuring Ringo Deathstarr, Shallow Waves and Drew Scott, respectively. Each remix adds intensity to already fervent numbers, whether through an electro-pop addition or extra drums to increase the pace of the song. While Lakis is a brilliant artist in her own right, collaborating with artists of differing genres only allows for a further demonstration of her range of abilities.
Lakis is succinct in conveying her personality through her music. The artist said, “It’s hard to be a loving, open-hearted person in a world that can be so cold and alienating. Many facets of life have felt devoid of warmth and care; many people have felt devoid of warmth and care. And yet, because you can’t have hell without heaven, I’ve been simultaneously shown unconditional love on a scale I’ve never before experienced, too.” This sentiment is exemplified by the fact that listening to “A Fiesta and a Hell” feels like taking a glimpse into the musician's soul, which is replete with female power, a strong will and undeniable creativity.