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But if you see me out, know I’m the coolest fucking bitch in town, sings Haley Blais on the first single from her forthcoming album Wisecrack. Thematically, the song about “pushing down feelings and walking around like nothing bothers you” is one of the record’s defining tracks. Blais calls the lilting, languid song a “pathetically triumphant paradox” about the “last death rattle right before that honest moment” and embracing being uncool. Tongue-in-cheek lines like I want my therapist to think I’m cool give the melancholic mood a biting edge. Can I be responsible for things that I did years ago? / I guess it could be good for just a laugh, Blais sings — that’s Wisecrack in a nutshell. Funny and raw at the same time. 


Wisecrack is concerned with conscience, morality, “being stuck between two mindsets,” and the superego. It’s “bleak but true,” as Blais puts it. “Am I a good person or not? Are we all doing okay? Am I a good daughter? Sister? Partner? Friend?” The existential, everyday worries we all contain but rarely share are laid bare across 11 songs exquisitely performed with profundity, grace, and humour. 


Conceived as a conceptual piece about the formation of new families amidst the dissolution of her parents’ relationship, Wisecrack is more mature, confessional, focused, and darker, than anything Blais has yet produced. 


The Vancouver-based singer-songwriter started developing a community and fanbase as a teenager almost a decade ago with her diaristic YouTube videos and tender ukulele covers. Since then, Blais, who sang classical opera for ten years, traded in the solo ukulele for a guitar and a five-piece band. In 2020, Blais released a debut full-length album of jangly pop anthems, Below the Salt, produced with indie staples Tennis and Louise Burns, featuring the vocally powerful, complex slow-burn favorite “Be Your Own Muse.” The self-released Below the Salt amassed millions of streams and avid support from publications like NPR, NYLON, and i-D and led to a North American tour with Peach Pit. Now signed to iconic indie label Arts & Crafts, Blais is set to release sophomore record Wisecrack in the fall of 2023.


The dynamic album opener “Soft Spot for Monarchs,” which commences with the self-deprecating lyric I’d kill to be a sensitive person, began as a poem (it feels “very Patti Smith,” Blais notes) and muses on having mercy only for bugs. The following track, “Survivor’s Guilt,” one of the album’s highlights, is a brassy, nostalgia-tinged song centering the death of a family dog. Can’t a girl mourn the death of a dog in the back of theatre in peace? Blais sings with an irony that’s pierced with grief, in perhaps the record’s most poignant moment. Written based off a memory of the carpet of Blais’s childhood home, Blais explains that the song is“trying to grasp onto the last images” she has of that house.


All of Wisecrack is like this: textured and wryly poetic, somewhere between childhood memory and the creation of a new self. A holiday memory comes back to me now, Blais croons on low-key groovy recent single “Matchmaker” — in between introspections about relationship pressures and expectations, the way confidence can lead to fear — The smell of a food court, my shoes are untied. On “The Cabin,” which opens with Wisecrack’s most raucous guitar riff, we travel back in time to pure childhood sense memory, all hazy and blurry. The record’s central point, “The Cabin '' was written largely with the sensorial in mind: texture, sound, and smell memories. It’s “wet and squishy and dry and thirsty and disorienting,” Blais says. “A mirage of a song” that holds some of Blais’s strongest writing.I don’t wanna be the smoke inside the living room / Can we open up the patio door?

 I don’t wanna be the wet inside your swimming shoes / Can you take me out and shake me on the shore? 


The second half of the record continues the first half’s oscillation between present and past, but looks more toward the future. Blais goes “full metal jacket” and wishes for her baby teeth back on “Baby Teeth”; thinks about all the things they’ve done and how they feel Stuck forever in a reboot of your favourite teenage television show on “Body”; My songs will make sense in 30 years, sings Blais on penultimate “Winner” (though they make perfect sense now), guitar twanging and percussion pounding. The lyrics, which contain the Beckett-esque line The rocks we eat are getting softer, call back to the ideas in the first half, like “Reset Button” — redos, taking chances, finding beauty in mundanity and regret, the relief of putting the past behind you, the feeling that failure is romantic.


For Blais, the purpose of looking backwards was never just for nostalgia’s sake, it’s to come to terms with the past in an effort to push herself forward. Not only is Wisecrack a more mature album, it is an album about maturing. “Writing this album made me feel self actualized,” explains Blais. “It’s like my Pinocchio moment - I feel real.” By dissecting the stories of our lives that we’ve told ourselves, we spin new narratives that more accurately express who we are today, and who we want to be tomorrow.


The synthy, gossamer finale of Wisecrack, “Beginner’s Guide to Birdwatching,” started as a voice note, a recording of Blais, her brother, sister-in-law, and their collective best friend, singing to her newborn niece. A scene from the family pre-divorce, Still on our parents’ cell phone plan dissolves, framed by bird calls, into the chorus: One minute she wasn’t there / Then the next minute there she was. Examining a moment of joy, ending the record with the spirit of a new beginning.


MANAGEMENT: Meagan Davidson

LABEL: Arts & Crafts

BOOKING USA: Jamila Lyndon

BOOKING CANADA: Jeremy Giacomin

BOOKING UK/EU: Eleanore McGuinness

CDN PUBLICITY: Killbeat Music



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