There’s a dizzy quality to the two songs that make up Lindsey Mills’s Cusp EP that’s difficult to pin down. It isn’t the drunk dizzy that sends people groping through deafening shadows towards the bathroom, nor is it the sea-sick sort that hangs the hapless across deckchairs. Instead, it’s a softer dizziness, the sort one experiences while prancing on a playground beneath an iridescent blue sky, or at a hometown carnival, ticketless and mischievous during an endless dusk. It’s breathless, breezy, dreamy, evoking a sort of innocent limitlessness.
Certainly, Mills’s vocal acrobatics on “Saggy Capricorn” plays a part in this sensation. As her guitar thrums gently, tip-toes across a shufflebeat that sees and saws, Mills’s voice rises and dips and soars with a kind of confident finesse. Her lyrics—about leaving a poisonous place—serve to compliment this singing style: “I’ve got a strong notion to build a raft,” she sings during the first chorus, “float merrily down the river of trash until I am dumped in the ocean.”
The dark whimsy of Mills’s lyrics contribute to the EP’s dizziness, sure, but the way Mills’s glinting guitar parts glimmer beneath the simple drumbeats stirs, perhaps, a more disorienting experience. This is especially true on “Sesame, Sesame,” where Mill’s finger-plucked melody slips beneath drummer Izzy DiLorenzo’s marching snare drum, tumbles beneath Tony Maimone’s solemn bass, leading the listener through a curious mouse hole, down a crooked corridor toward a chorus that feels like a surprise party, full of resolving chords and harmonies and slowly falling confetti.
Recorded in Brooklyn before retreating to her home state of Florida, Cusp captures something elusive to even the cleverest of songwriters: A nearly palpable sense of mood that supersedes the auditory and leads the listener into their minds, their memories, their emotions. Maybe this is what elicits that sense of limitlessness, that dizziness so difficult to pin down, and maybe that’s what makes this modest EP so special—that Mills accomplishes this with little more than her voice, a Gibson hollowbody, a witty mind for melody.
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