Eight years ago, Alan Sparhawk of Low spotted twenty-year-old Haley Bonar performing at an open mic and invited her and her drummer on tour with his band. Since then, Bonar’s been busy: she’s put out five solo studio albums and started a punk side project called Gramma’s Boyfriend, which we hear involves performing in eighties figure skating outfits. Bringing anxious bass lines together with elegant vocal harmony, Bonar brings a songwriting style to each of her albums that’s appealing and complex, with a way of cloaking grisly lyrics in catchy hooks.
“No Sensitive Man” opens with a rousing drum line and dreamy, smeared vocals that seem draped over the music. “Shut your eyes and play me something good,” Bonar sings, sounding exasperated. “I don’t wanna talk. We can get away with anything these days.” It’s a flat, unsentimental meditation with a choppy bass line that sprawls over the track. This is Bonar at her most disaffected– “No Sensitive Man” bristles in a way that’s new for Bonar’s solo material, and though it’s exciting to see her snarl, the self-isolation of the vocals on this track ultimately sound lazy, and disengaged from the rest of the music. In the absence of the sweet, story-telling style that have made her albums so good up to this point, the flat disappointment and dismissiveness that colors this track feels kind of unengaging, especially since the instrumental lines don’t fill out to take over the spotlight from Bonar’s narrative persona. While I like the idea of Bonar taking the thematic bleakness her music has always had and drawing it into the music’s aesthetic a bit more, “No Sensitive Man” lacked focus without Bonar’s vocals front and center.
Bonar’s new album, Last War, will be in stores May 20th via Graveface. Until then, check out “No Sensitive Man” below and let us know what you think!