Olive Bernard is bringing the complexity of life to our ears in her EP Pretty Easy. Touching on the emotional intricacies of sex, femininity and power imbalance in toxic relationships, the EP draws on Bernard’s understanding of herself and relationships under a male gaze. With a touch of sarcasm and a lot of pain, the EP discusses a range of topics and themes that are often overlooked.
While the EP is quite personal, the themes all have a universality to them that is easy to relate to. Drawing on influences including early Frankie Cosmos, Elliott Smith and Liz Phair, she blends pop and folk for an intimate story. Capturing her mentality after a big breakup, Bernard offers insight and catharsis.
The EP opens with ‘Neck’ which has a delightful softness to the melody. Bernard’s vocals are a light layer that rests over your skin like a gentle fog. The easy flow of the music and vocals are an amazing contrast to the lyrics of the track. Detailed in the lyrics is a rather unhealthy relationship that is packed with co-dependency, a light touch of obsession and an interesting understanding that the relationship might not be healthy. It is a rather intriguing start to the EP that sets a curious tone for the rest of the songs.
‘Kitchen Knife’ continues the look at an unhealthy relationship. The melody is earthier than the opening track with an intimacy that is very different to the airiness of ‘Neck’. The beats have your foot tapping to them while the acoustic guitar draws you into the flow of the music. There is a lovely tapestry of contrasts in this song that perfectly captures the emotions that wash through you after a breakup. There is the pain of loss which is tempered by the delight of reconnecting with parts of yourself. The earthiness of the melody helps the lyrics and vocals pull you close while opening your eyes to the possibilities that come after a breakup.
The strumming opening of ‘Just a Body’ brings back the haziness of the opening but the light twinkling tones in the higher levels adds a unique thread. This song has a dreamier feeling to it and has you picturing thinking at a kitchen table while the sun streams in. There is a fair amount of melancholy wrapped into the vocal performance that brings the sadness of the lyrics to life. Through the single, you are filled with the sense of being invisible as a person while understanding that this is happening and needing to make a change.
’96 Lbs’ has a serious emotional hit from the first moments as it delves into the emotional complexities of sex. There is an interplay between bliss and cutting despair that is so poignant. Through Bernard’s vocals, you are inundated with all the emotions of the track from a yearning for love to the doubt over what another person is saying. The emotional hits are a mixed bag and you never quite know what is going to knock you over next. This is actually perfect when coupled with the lyrics of the track.
The title track ‘Pretty Easy’ brings a new vibe to the EP while Bernard’s vocals continue their gossamer flow. There is something a little sarcastic resting in the sadness of the track. There is a bit of self-deprecation in the song that makes it a whole lot sadder. This is wrapped around confusion over the actions of another that a lot of people are able to connect with. The strummed acoustic guitar in the melody has you floating while getting lost in the lyrics and vocals.
The EP comes to a close with ‘Before Bed’ that has the most expansive feeling out of the tracks. There is something about the swelling in the melody that makes you think of wide expanses that reach far beyond the horizon. Through the poetry of the lyrics, you are faced with a rather sad ending to the story of the EP. There is a depressing resignation to bad treatment in a relationship in the track that really weighs on our heart.
Olive Bernard has you walking the line of melancholic acceptance and brighter potential in the tracks of Pretty Easy. Through each track, she has you looking at the emotions of a toxic relationship and weighing the negative impacts against the loss of leaving. A wonderful introspective, the EP has you soaking in the emotions of the single while connecting with them on a deep level.