Published Feb 18, 2020Rose Cousins has been observing the juxtapositions of the world and carrying them with her. Because of this, dualities permeate her latest release, Bravado, which follows her 2017 record Natural Conclusion. Moving from upbeat celebrations of time with oneself into sombre compositions depicting loneliness, Bravado is never prescriptive and entirely candid.
The richness of Cousins' voice is complemented easily by the inclusion of strings, horns and lingering piano lines. If "The Benefits of Being Alone" opens the record in celebration, its reprisal at the end of the record shifts into contemplation. As the album tilts introspective, parentheses creep into the song titles like ivy creeping across a fence.
On "The Fraud," strings tug at the fringes of a piano as Cousins repeats, "Don't believe me." The power of repetition is wielded once more on "The Return (Love Comes Back)," which aptly echoes the line "And love comes back" with a swell. But it is the catchy and subtly frenetic "The Swimmer (To Be an Old Man)" paired against "The Lullaby (My Oldest Love)" — which was co-written with Hey Rosetta!'s Tim Baker — that brings the album to a peak. Anxiety simmers in the former, while a vocal confidence pervades the cresting pressure of the latter.
Just as she holds juxtaposition, Cousins also finds symmetry. Two short asides mark the middle and end of the record, and quietly rise up with a mantra: "It's just emotion, my darling." Like an old radio being turned up, the line takes hold and we are left caught on the caveat. How much weight do we give these emotions, and what consequences come of not voicing them? (Outside)