Renforshort’s 2020 debut EP ‘Teenage Angst’ saw Lauren Isenberg bring guitar-driven fury to the softly-spoken world of bedroom pop; whether the Canadian solo star was demanding more from young love (‘IDC’), talking about anxiety-induced panic attacks (‘I Drive Me Mad’) or hating her own reflection (‘Bummer’), that fearless ‘Teenage Angst’ wasted no time in establishing Renforshort as an artist unafraid to say exactly what was on her mind.
It was confident stuff from someone with only two singles to their name but when one of those was the glitching strut of 2019’s breakout ‘Mind Games’, it’s easy to see where that self-belief came from. The songs dealt with the sort of subjects you’d expect a seventeen-year-old to be singing about but never diminishing her experiences, and those moody confessionals spoke up for a generation of teens. No wonder Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda wanted to get involved with a remix of ‘I Drive Me Mad’.
Continuing the conversation, two singles quickly followed the record – the pop-rock might of ‘Nostalgic (Luvsick)’ and the anthemic lockdown want of ‘Fuck, I Luv My Friends’ – that proved there was more to Renforshort than barbed frustration. New EP ‘Off Saint Dominique’ continues that growth and then some.
Like other Gen Z stars (Girl In Red, Baby Queen) she’s comfortable name-checking both Oasis and Kurt Cobain but rather than following what’s come before, this EP is more about challenging expectations and chasing joy, no matter where it takes you.
Opener ‘Wannabe’ finds Renforshort leaning into those Billie Eilish comparisons with a track that feels like the spiritual follow-up to the latter’s bolshy 2020 single ‘Therefore I Am’, with Isenberg unafraid to call out those chasing clout: “Baby you’re a walking cliche, drop me off if you want to drop names…you just want attention, followers and mentions”. The pop-punk buoyancy of ‘Virtual Reality’ finds her annoyed about a life lived online; delivered over cut-up vocal samples, it’s more ambitious than anything she’s tried yet and is as playful and cutting as ever as she purges a year’s worth of fear, loneliness and isolation in three raucous minutes.
Things get more dynamic with ‘Fall Apart’, a rumbling emo collaboration with hyperpop-star glaive. Bounding between messy acoustic guitar and a thundering wall of noise, it shows off Renforshort’s increasing versatility. Elsewhere all that urgent, scuzzy chaos is stripped away for the delicate warmth of ‘Exception’. A sparse ode of unrequited but determined love, (“I’m only 18 but I know how to love”) it sees Renforshort fearless with her vulnerability.
It all ends with the dreamy ‘This Is Just A Story’; hopeful in the face of unavoidable reality, the track starts with compassion (“I know this year’s been hard”) and follows that through to the end, as she promises repeatedly that “it’s alright”. A celebration of ever-changing emotion, ‘Off Saint Dominique’ finds the Canadian singer sure of her voice and playing with how it is used.