Listen to Aphra’s introverted new single “Rooms”
The “About” section on Aphra’s Bandcamp page contains a deceptively complex message. “Moving beyond catharsis,” it reads.
This short phrase might be the unifying theme behind all of Aphra’s music. It doesn’t seek to simply express painful emotions. It actually seeks to heal.
“Rooms,” the second single from Aphra’s forthcoming EP Sadness Is a Gesture, fits this mold perfectly. The song is about vocalist Rebecca Way’s suffering following the end of a toxic relationship. “When people fall in love they tend to put each other on such a high pedestal at first (turning another into a Christ figure of sorts),” Way wrote to the Key. “Depending on how high each’s expectations are of one another, “the fall” could be from a great height. Falling out of love-situations like this can be extremely painful and confusing.”
One of Aphra’s greatest skills as an artist is her ability to effortlessly infuse intimacy into her music. Aided by adept lyricism (“I sip on my tears till they taste sweet / Now my legs they rust”), “Rooms” portrays the slow descent of a relationship into its very worst moments.
Accompanied only by an emotionless drum machine beat and the occasional lonely ping of a xylophone, Way’s breathy vocals dominate “Rooms.” By eschewing other instruments Way is able to strip down her own defenses and get straight to the poisonous core of her relationship. That’s the cathartic element.
But that Bandcamp message doesn’t just read “catharsis.” It also emphasizes “moving beyond.” By the track’s end, we get the first hint that Aphra has started to move on. That ominous drum beat drops out, freeing the vocals to float into the stratosphere. As she sings, Way repeats one question over and over: “Why did I turn you into Christ again?” By asking this question and analyzing her relationship, Way lets herself begin the healing process. She may not have fully moved beyond catharsis, but at least she’s taken the first step.
Listen to “Rooms” below and make sure to check out Aphra live at Kung Fu Necktie on March 10th.