I remember a couple months ago, sitting on the floor of a living room on the West Side, hearing Stephanie Knipe’s music live for the first time. Armed with just an electric guitar, Knipe, front woman of Purchase, NY’s Adult Mom, proceeded to perform one of the best solo sets I have ever seen: simple guitar chords matched with some undisguised, brutally honest lyrical content, delivered in just the right way. It really gave me a whole new appreciation for her music as a whole, and I was delighted to hear she had a new full length on the way.
Titled Momentary Lapse of Happily, the new Adult Mom record is just what I expected in a way. Its an album about breakups, abusive relationships, gender, and emotional turmoil, which comes off as one of the most brutally personal releases I have heard this year. And after having listened to Knipe’s previous records, this really came as no surprise.
Beginning on Momentary Lapse of Happily‘s second track, “Survival,” Knipe shows no restraint when softly vocalizing her fears that her parents do not love her anymore, standing up against emotional abusers, and being queer. Her vocal delivery repeatedly digs away at the listener, seemingly playful sounding at times, yet always tackling some darker, emotional topics. At times, the instrumentation can throw the listener off, especially on cuts like “Survival” and “Told Ya So,” where unexpected energetic, bouncy drums back the piercing lyrics.
The main criticism I have of Momentary Lapse of Happily is that while Knipe’s delivery and lyrics are always on point, the instrumentals tend to lack variety. The plain guitar chords, light drums, and repeated bass sections start to become a little boring when recycled track after track, leaving a lot of the songs sounding disappointingly similar.
While this style of bedroom pop may not for everyone, there is no doubt that Knipe is an incredibly talented lyricist, and posses a certain kind of honesty in her music that is rare to come by. Through all of the heart ache and trauma, there is one primary theme of personal growth emerges after repeated listens. Rather than to wallow in sadness, Knipe takes those negative experiences, learns from them, and grows as an individual.