Written by Travis Shosa
Following the release of “conscience + necrosis” on her birthday this past July, Seattle’s Mira Kaplan, aka Mira Tsarina, aka iffin, shares another track of bite-sized brittle pop in “purplish,” initially planned for release on the now-abandoned album between ends. Formerly known for her work in Montreal post-punk outfit Boy Friends, iffin sees Kaplan drop the odd time signatures of her old band in favor of a sound that is outright eager in its immediacy. There’s no time for a build on “purplish.” By the end of its first second, she’s already sputtered out most of “When the paragon of fist sets sail” over a chunky bass line and guitar that jangles with such fervor it seems the strings might fly off.
While the songwriting is direct and to the point, Kaplan’s lyricism is far from it. She speaks in riddles, channeling R.E.M.’s Murmur era with drawls of “wake up the boy” followed by moody mumbles of “It’s why you look so tired / It’s why you look so tough.” While Kaplan gives “special thanks to the color purple,” the meanings of purple are many: including mystery and femininity. While both are applicable, it also makes sense when observing purplish as the space between red and blue: between fury and sorrow. The paragon of fist could be someone who carries anger and feels pressured to keep it hidden. The paragon “keeps his eyes on the knots he ties” and trades “rhetoric for monkish vows,” signifying caution. There’s a rejection of “sugar” or sweetness. Kaplan dismisses it as “static,” incapable of catalyzing progress. It’s something to be purged: cried out. She’d prefer to consume the hardened majesty of purple mountains. “You’re not just fending for yourself this time,” she sings. It’s an oath of strength when it seems so easy to come apart like sugar glass.
For more iffin, you can listen to “conscience + necrosis”:
Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.
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