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The Latest from Head Bitch Music has been out for a couple of days now and I’ve been privately jamming to every one of those songs every day since. I’m of course talking about “Super Weirdo,  the new album by LACES and the mastermind behind it: Jessica Vaughn.

“Super Weirdo” is not Vaughn’s debut album, not by a long shot. Though her legal name is Jessica she’s been recording and releasing music for years, both for commercials, TV and more. She’s perhaps familiar to some readers as Charlotte Sometimes – an alter ego she had to have a literal sort-of funeral for, so as to move on with her life and get a fresh start ““We had a funeral show––I invited everyone to wear black” says the L.A. Singer-Songwritter “we gave her one last hurrah, and then, I moved on. I created this persona, LACES.”


But what does that moving on sound like? What does that get you? It’s a sort of whimsical wisdom, a chance to look back and have a bit of fun even with the dark parts, to turn that pain or disenchantment into fuel. LACES’ “Super Weirdo” smiles wryly at the past. It welcomes the future. It is confident in the path it is on and the sound it has achieved. There’s also a lot of openness and vulnerability to her lyrics now, a clear-cut sign of this personal growth reflected in a type of songwriting that isn’t afraid to confront trauma.


As Charlotte Sometimes, she always had a dark edge to her music, but with LACES, rather than getting further into that, Jessica finds it in her to be stronger and warmer with both her lyrics and sound. There’s no value in holding on to painful moments that can’t be turned into insights, and the friction between yourself and the world should only make you stronger and smile brighter. She confesses: “Right now, the music I’m making feels like a conversation and an observation, and less of a judgment”

Let’s take a look at this collection of songs.


  • Almost Happy (feat. Butch Walker)


LACES 90’s-inspired sound crystalizes immediately upon the inception of the first track. “Almost Happy” is a warm summery bitter-sweet electro pop song about that equilibrium one reaches in adulthood, where one is content, somewhat satisfied and finally able to accept who you are and what’s led you to this place.


  • Super Weirdo


Following this song is the titular “Super Weirdo”, which stands almost in direct opposition to it. Where “Almost Happy” is about basically about contentment and maturity, “Super Weirdo” instead celebrates the off-beat and off-the-wall lifestyle of some of Jessica’s friends, those who -in her own words “will never fully be “adult”, are a little left of center, and proudly wave their freak flag.” This song work from a much more light-hearted pop-oriented perspective, even flirting with pop-punk, which evokes images of one being a youthful mallrat just enjoying being lazy with your friends.


  • Thirsty (feat. Molly Miller)


One of those paradoxical-sounding songs, which are far more upbeat and positive than their origin would have you believe. “I’ve been in music professionally for 17 years and I am over the sexism, the gaslighting, and general double standards’ ‘ says LACES. The sassy and cheeky song is a bird flipped to all the male producers who tried to take advantage of Jessica in any way during her stint as Charlotte Sometimes. She carries that now and will for the rest of her life, but “Thirsty” is her way of putting it to rest, to reclaim ownership of herself as a person and an artist moving forward.


  • Permanent (with Archie Faulks)


A cold and haunting piano-forward ballad that charts a LACEs road from being a lonesome person who is too proud and too hurt to rely on others and into someone who can openly love and let others in. The Duet with Archie places a lot of emphasis on the mutual respect and surrender that meant for her to fall in love with her husband, which makes this  song “a love confession and declaration of my respect for our bond. No matter what happens – this love is permanent and has made its mark on me forever.”


  • Girlfriend


The Summery vibes and strong danceable synth pop rhythm would be enough to make this song a huge hit, but then the hook comes in and you just can’t get out of it, it’s like a sticky trap you’ve fallen into and you can’t help but start moving your feet up and down to the beat.

This song is a celebration of her own sexuality and the road to acceptance. LACES describes herself as a “Bi-sexual Badass” and this is her celebration of it.


  • Say


What happens when you name your trauma? Facing up, owning up and having a conversation with yourself can be a driving factor in healing and growth. This lush, shining  track focuses its melody on uplifting guitar strings to make a really tender and nurturing atmosphere in the middle of a session of vulnerability.


  • Get What You Give (New Radicals Cover)


With covers, you have to appreciate first and foremost the quality and the new sound that the artist brings to the table, and then you have to factor in what the original means to them. For LACES, this song is a big inspiration, something that has shaped and informed the sound before us today.


  • Underdog


This song has a very pensive and wistful atmosphere, and there’s no surprise with the emotiveness of it either. It was written in conjunction with producer Tone Def, first as an inside joke until it grew into a real introspection of what it means and feels to be underestimated and even ostracized, this is something expressed to perfection in the use of the alternative/indie melodic textures.


  • Lost in Wherever 


So far, LACES has given us quite a bit of piano, but we’re not quite done yet, and this song feels like a perfect follow-up to underdog with its gloomy atmosphere. I’m wary of ever drawing parallels between anyone and Radiohead, but there’s a lot to pick out in this song that reminds me so much of Radiohead, which speaks a lot about the great quality of this album and its ability to communicate complex emotions and memories in beautiful and precise ways.


  • Jersey Shore 


This song is pretty much a complete 180 from the previous couple of songs, and now LACES takes us back to the fun and lighthearted side of memories. This time we’re talking about what life in the Jersey Shore meant for Jessica, and if you thought “Girlfriend” was a summer anthem then you better hold on to your hat for this one.


Best way I can describe this track is in the French expression “Joie De Vivre”. Yeah, “Jersey Shore” is pure that. Owing to Jessica’s own words: “There’s a part of me that will always be a teenager falling in love on the Jersey Shore”


  • Underachiever


This is the final stage of our Super Weird journey, this final bonus track is a very rustic and charming anti-folk quickie piece about being kind of lazy and doing just enough to get by. Thematically it certainly feeds into a lot of what the album has gotten to before, but it’s also a highly ironic piece that praises something that LACES certainly isn’t.


I guess we all have those moments when we wish we could just stop caring and stop grinding so hard and just do the bare minimum and enjoy a much slower and less stressful lifestyle. Though it is perfectly healthy to just take it easy sometimes, one is left to wonder: Would we be really happier that way?


 Story: Samuel Aponte Photos: Shari Hoffman



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