“We were born to name the beauty in this/ in the hopelessness of always wishing for something else.” So goes the last line of “Alta,” the 50-second introduction to Fear of Men’s Loom. Delivered coolly and sweetly by singer Jessica Weiss, the couplet serves as a thesis statement of sorts for the album, which dreamily romanticizes a suffocating relationship shifting from eerily comfortable to totally miserable.
“Waterfall,” the song emerging from “Alta,” sets up the record’s main metaphor, using the recurring image of rushing water as a mirror for love: It’s calm and meditative and beautiful, but also something to be feared, a natural force that could unexpectedly and inescapably pull you in. “I’m not alone in this, I’m not alone in this,” Weiss sings. “Take me to the waterfall when it’s over.” Her voice is soft and lulling but loaded with loneliness. “I’ve tried my best to destroy you but the waves keep overflowing me,” she sings later on “Luna.”
Weiss’s language mixes emotional frankness and purposeful vagueness, which makes her lyrics resonate more like universal truisms than personal introspections. And though her poetry is always center stage, the spacious and glimmering sound of Loom gives her lots of room: Intricate intertwining guitar riffs play out the inner strife of her words, while stretches of somber strings add drama. The effect is dream-pop that brims with anxious longing. On “Seer,” Weiss sings: “You say you’re a seer, I see nothing.” It’s a simple, devastating sentiment, and Fear of Men’s light touch means it hits twice as hard.