At Work: Blondshell

At Work: Blondshell

Hana Gustafson on May 18, 2023

Photo: Dominique Falcone


“I don’t have a specific message with this album so much as I want to offer people a snapshot of my life and what it looks like when you’re willing to provide a window for others to watch you grow up and figure things out. I just want to let people in,” Sabrina Teitelbaum—who is better known by her bleached-out stage name Blondshell—says, when asked about the genesis of her self-titled debut album. “I’m not here to alter anyone’s perspective with this project. I’m just going to write about my reality.”

Boasting lyrics filled with coming-of-age imagery, Blondshell often recalls the angsty, guitar[1]driven indie-rock popularized by female songwriters like Sharon Van Etten and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O. Likewise, Teitelbaum’s hook-heavy zingers showcase her unique ability to meld wry hilarity with severely weighted topics. “I use humor in many of these songs because it mimics how I would talk to people I’m really comfortable with,” she says. “It’s what I would say to my friends or family. Humor comes up because it’s a solid coping mechanism.”

That dark-and-light contrast comes into play numerous times throughout the record. Album opener “Veronica Mars” uses the hit CW television show of the same name to analyze the media’s ability to twist percep[1]tion in favor of idealization—a known symptom of the early-20s female experience—capturing a convergence of sedentary behavior and the overactive mind with lyrics like, “Veronica Mars/ 2000 oughts/ Logan’s a dick/ I’m learning that’s hot.”

Further down the track list, Teitelbaum steps outside the confines of traditional expectations on “Kiss City.” “It’s not the typical structure of a song. It came out quickly, and we just left it as it arrived,” she says. That rebellious nature carries over to “Sepsis,” which finds Teitelbaum directly channeling her rock predecessors. “I wrote that guitar part, and then I sang over it,” she says. “I was just listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins—‘90s, early 2000s indie-rock stuff. A lot of the guitar parts I was writing at the time were influenced by what I was listening to.”

On the heels of her nine-track debut, which was released in early April, Teitelbaum will once again embody the rock spirit of those that have come before her at concert halls across Europe, before looping back to the U.S. in July. “It feels really exciting,” she says. “My life looks different. The stuff that I do every day feels different—in a good way. And I really love playing live. I love how people can interact with the music. It just makes it more real.”

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