Album Reviews

Willow – Coping Mechanism

(Interscope/Roc Nation) UK release date: 7 October 2022

Full of feisty attitude, blaring guitars and rhythmically intense drumming, an album of raucous yet calculated emo tunes for zoomers

Willow - Want to feel old? The song Whip My Hair is 12 years old and Will Smith’s daughter is now all grown up, making raucous yet calculated emo tunes for zoomers. Coping Mechanism is full of feisty attitude, blaring guitars and rhythmically intense drumming, and sees Willow positioning herself as the edgier Olivia Rodrigo with mixed results.

<maybe> it’s my fault was the record’s first single and sums up this approach nicely, as she bellows her way through an aggressive bridge only to land on a surprisingly tuneful hook. Falling Endlessly pulls off a similar trick with clunkier lyrics (“you don’t want to hear it but I think it’s fucking time about”) and a formula is established, though there are variations here and there.

Perfectly Not Close To Me brings out the synths courtesy of Yves Tumor and cuts up Willow’s screamed vocals into spiky fragments, while Split takes things in a more mellow direction and throws in a key change. The production is to a good standard, deftly avoiding the trap of being constantly noisy, and the toplines are sweet like candy floss, but by the time we get to the title track’s self-deprecating lyrics the project threatens to become a paint-by-numbers exercise.

Emo music is as indulgent as one would expect from a genre that thinks conveying emotion is its USP, and as such on Coping Mechanism the listener is faced with lots of angst and not as much substance. curious/furious sees the elements join most harmoniously, as a pretty vocal sequence lets the track build from lone guitar chords to a driving, percussive coda with grace and skill. Since the days of juvenilia Willow has altered her style many times for many releases, and a song like this should signpost the way to a more fulfilling followup.

buy Willow MP3s or CDs
Spotify Willow on Spotify

More on Willow
Willow – Coping Mechanism