Strength Inside the Heartbreak: pronoun's I'll Show You Stronger Album Review
Don’t you just love when a record comes out at just the right time in your life? The word on my mind today is serendipity, and I have to marvel at the perfect timing of pronoun’s debut full-length album, i’ll show you stronger - an incredibly powerful break-up record for the ages that came to me right when I needed it. When I first heard about pronoun’s album, released back in May, and the context from which it came to be, I was simply excited to immerse myself in the project like any other album by an artist I enjoy. Did I imagine that, shortly after it’s release, I’d be going through my own break-up? Not so much, but here we are 2 months later; and the 12 songs that constitute pronoun mastermind, Alyse Vellturo’s album have taken on a whole new life inside my brain.
The task that Vellturo set on, by crafting a record so intimately intertwined with her journey in moving on from the end of a relationship, is frankly really difficult. Every relationship, every break-up is uniquely personal. The days, months, and years that color that experience are almost impossible to duplicate or communicate to anyone else outside of yourself. The nature of a break-up can even seem out of your own grasp at times, because how do you define and make sense of all the unsaid words, feverish glances and quiet nights as time pulls you further and further away from them? As challenging as it is, Vellturo somehow manages to convey so much nuance, subtlety, and complexity throughout i’ll show you stronger that you feel like you are right in the throws with her.
So many of the songs beautifully illustrate the evolving and at times paradoxical feelings that come with the end of a relationship. From the very beginning of the record with “you’re not trying at all,” Vellturo conveys both the pain and resignation of watching someone walk out of your life. The guitar riffs carrying through the whole song emulates the steady throbbing hole left in your heart by someone you love. Paired with the aggressive punch of the drumbeat that matches the punch in the gut feeling of watching someone slip away, the instrumentation of this song pulls you in to observe that pain and feel it simultaneously. Vellturo’s vocal delivery adds the final layer of emotion to this track, sounding both frustrated and defiant yet dejected. Her final scream of “you’re not trying at all” almost acts like the emotional thesis of the album, representing all the life lived throughout this relationship and subsequent fallout.
i’ll show you stronger only continues to take on more layers of complexity and power. Songs like “run” and “stay” are both brash and defiant in the face of the sadness that Vellturo expresses. Both songs containing some of my favorite pronoun vocal performances to date and quick-witted lyrics that are so brilliant you want to replay them over and over again. Songs like “you didn’t even make the bed” and “for the story” attempt to more delicately puzzle through the hurt and loss. Both are perfect ceiling staring tracks that invite you to dive deep into yourself.
As strong as the first half of the album is with “you’re not trying at all” and “run,” the second half of the album really stands out as the heart and soul of the album. In songs like “some people” and “the pieces of you,” you see Vellturo face all of the history and pain of her experience to reach a place of reflection and understanding. When you are first plunged into the end of a relationship, the hardest part, I think, is really looking at the person you were in a relationship with and the person you were for who you both really are. “some people” takes off the emotional filters for a moment of earnest understanding. From that moment, “the pieces of you” continues that reflection to share probably the most important lesson on the entire album in its chorus: At the end of it all, the person you are no longer with is not what matters. Picking yourself up is.
When the record finally ends with “everybody knows,” Vellturo invites us all to reflect on the emotional journey we have undertaken with a helpless acceptance. With the group harmony and anthemic arrangement, it’s as if Vellturo is rallying us all together to say, “Hey, I don’t know what’s gonna happen next but let’s just keep going.” And this record makes you want to try.
It is always special when an artist spills out all of their experience for the world, and Vellturo bravely takes us on this journey with her so we can watch her start to come out to the other side. i’ll show you stronger is a candid and encouraging show of inner strength in the face of heartbreak. I’m not sure if I am quite as far on my own journey as Vellturo, but luckily for me, I have 12 pronoun songs to help me pick myself back up and keep moving on.