'Blondshell' is the Alt-Rock Manifestation of Sabrina Teitelbaum’s Turbulent Early 20s

Written by Natalie Melendez, Photo by Marcelo Torok

Debut albums are an artist’s introduction to the world, a source of unbridled passion still untainted by the weight of stardom and public expectation. But for the LA-based Sabrina Teitelbaum, her new project’s self-titled debut, Blondshell, is more of a reintroduction.

Teitelbaum, previously performing as BAUM, does away with the trope-y electro-pop melodies of her past work only to settle herself into the infectious alt-rock energy woven throughout Blondshell. Big, haunting riffs and thrashing drums dominate Teitelbaum’s new sound. It’s a soundscape the rock-raised 25-year-old knows well, and it’s the only one large enough to contain the magnitude of her bursting heart.  

The record’s 9-song tracklist is a journey inside the darkest parts of Teitelbaum’s mind. Her words are instantly striking, heavy in self-deprecating and sneering remarks, as she grapples with the equally heavy topics of addiction and modern dating. They’re the type of thoughts no one would dare speak out loud, much less willingly admit to the world through song. Yet it’s that sincere honesty, and Teitelbaum’s seductively disruptive voice, that make Blondshell such a formidable first impression. 

Teitelbaum wants to be saved. You can hear it in the album opener “Veronica Mars,” where she begs for shelter alongside somber strums, and in the brutally reflective “Sepsis.” But for the majority of her early 20s the singer has been looking for salvation in all the wrong places. Teitelbaum has found herself in a devastating cycle of substance abuse and faulty relationships with questionable men — two sources of stimulation that have ultimately prevented her from what she truly desires: pure love. “Palm in palm, it turns me on/ When you tell me you’re not going away,” Teitelbaum pleads in the sensual “Kiss City.” She’s ready to be crushed by the weight of unconditional devotion. 

But by the latter half of the album, Teitelbaum realizes only she can save herself. “I think I wanna save you/ I think I wanna join in,” she sings to herself in the heartfelt “Joiner.” For the first time, Teitelbaum embraces her own heroism, but she’s quick to admit the simplicity of giving in instead. It’s much easier to save other people, and in the raging “Salad,” Teitelbaum doesn’t hesitate to plot murder against a man that has wronged a close friend. “I would take a gun out/ Put some poison in his salad,” Teitelbaum sings between gritted teeth, and it is indeed a threat.

Crumbling beneath the pressures of your early 20s is certainly much simpler than facing the root of the collapse. However, for Teitelbaum, who has shifted focus within herself, crumbling is no longer an option. Blondshell is proof of her survival — and her undeniable musical prowess.

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