Indigo De Souza, based in Asheville, North Carolina, has been releasing enticing synth-pop pieces since her magnetic 2016 single “Boys.” Producing music that transforms idiosyncratic instrumentals and lyrics into catchy pop tunes, De Souza possesses an incredibly unique sound that transcends the normative “indie” perspective. With the stunning ability to write songs that stylistically range from R&B to bedroom pop, De Souza has undoubtedly proven her multifaceted songwriting skills and revealed a firm bearing on her overall creative vision.
Even in comparison to her prior releases, Any Shape You Take glimmers to a level previously uncharted by De Souza. Discussing themes that extend from the joy accompanying love to the depths of sorrow felt when such love dissipates, the artist masterfully flows between emotional landscapes all while assembling some of the most impressive sounds the indie scene has ever had to offer. She frequently merges instruments found in a typical four-piece band with retro drum machines and harsh synths. Featuring one-of-a-kind vocals and an undeniably innovative ethos, the album provides its listeners with artful lyricism, a sometimes excruciating emotional awareness and, most importantly, a timelessly captivating compilation of songs.
The album starts off particularly strongly with the reflective track titled “17.” By far the most electronically modulated song on the record, “17” uses a heavy layer of autotune, alluring synths and cleverly placed distortion to emphasize the pleasure and pain brought forth by a teenage infatuation. As De Souza sings “You were my seventeen/ You were my A-team,” the heavily modified vocals and electronic backings amplify, rather than detract from, the profound rawness of the track — an essential methodology followed throughout the album.
Another memorable song off the tracklist is the shimmering “Bad Dream,” where De Souza’s distinctively impressive vocal ability is put on full display. Filled to the brim with extraordinary dynamic variation and near-screams of sorrow, De Souza paints an agonizing image of depressive desperation as she whispers, “Dogs are barking/ I’m having a hard time sleeping,” then, suddenly increasing in volume and intensity, cries, “Things are changing/ I’m having a hard time/ Please send help to me.” Paired with a powerfully expressive guitar solo reminiscent of St. Vincent, the track completely sweeps listeners away into De Souza’s emotional turmoil in this notably heart-wrenching listen.
The album ends on a track titled “Kill Me,” a cheeky, yet nonetheless tragic song about having an adoration so deep that one would be just fine with being brutally murdered by their lover. This time around, a pared-down instrumental of mainly bass, guitar and drums coalesces with cold-blooded lyrics such as, “Kill me, and clean up, and if they ask you/ Where I am, we’ll tell them that I was all done.” A perfect finale to the unquestionably emotional rollercoaster that is Any Shape You Take, De Souza boldly empties her heart into the album’s closer, abandoning her listeners in a fog of ardor.
Any Shape You Take is one of the most — if not the most — sincere and poignant albums to be released in recent memory. Unafraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, De Souza masterfully combines her astonishing melodic abilities with lyricism that constructs an intensely passionate forefront ready for her listeners to fall into and explore. Packing the track list into a runtime of under 40 minutes, De Souza avoids conceptual repetition and mundaneness in her thorough presentation of the affecting themes that resonate so deeply within the human experience. Full of skillful songwriting, creativity and heartbreak galore, the record is certainly worth having on repeat for years to come — as long as one is emotionally prepared for such a journey — and has cemented De Souza as a dazzling musical force to be reckoned with.