Writer Jasmine Khan / Images taken from ‘Burden’ video
PleasePrettyLea is no newcomer to the Birmingham music scene having featured in BABMAG, as well as played staple venues like Centrala and the Hare and Hounds in the last year. Her new theatre-pop release ‘Burden’ is an alt-ballad with heavy 808 twists and a music video with early 2000 levels of drama.
‘Burden’ begins PleasePrettyLea’s eerie, atmospheric, lullaby vocals. Some delicate but mostly deviant harmonies are combined with waves of sound, before being layered with tingly tones and tasty beats by Zaq Coffee Sawyer.
This sound builds into immense crescendos and then disseminates into earth shattering break downs, over and over again.
‘Burden’ is dark (although not as dark as ‘Ohheycide’) and there’s a pit forming in my stomach. PleasePrettyLea’s music regularly evokes a physical response in me.
In the music video, these swells of textured sound are beautifully represented by PleasePrettyLea (whose white shirt and leather trousers remind me of Janet Jackson) falling to her knees in an abandoned warehouse and drowning in perpetual rainfall.
The bass drops out. We’re left with a low hum and PleasePrettyLea’s lone voice.
At first it whispers, then it shrieks cunningly, as snippets of her vocals clash over each other getting louder and quicker like a witch laughing on a west end stage. PleasePrettyLea’s acting background is surfacing just the right amount.
With clear influences from FKA twigs, Solange and a sprinkling of Billie Eilish, PleasePrettyLea’s lyrics are fearless and revealing when the bass comes back in. They speak on the deep insecurities that come about when we don’t feel like we’re enough for those we love.
“I feel lonely, in a room full of friends”
“I don’t feel worthy of your love, you’re way to kind”
‘Burden’s pace picks up and with the spiralling beats and off kilter vocals it feels like I’m tumbling down the rabbit hole. PleasePrettyLea’s various theatrical tones prick my ear with the kind insecurities that keep you up at night.
“He left you/ Such a fool to believe/Lies and deceit”
Her to the point lyricism is seriously relatable and reflective and the instrumental perfectly captures being overwhelmed by a negative internal narrative.
“Take me by the hand and I will show you/He doesn’t do the things that he’s supposed to/I don’t want to be a burden to you”
Similarly to other recent releases like ‘Shovelling Shit’ and ‘Nude Silk Dress’, ‘Burden’ isn’t meant to be sexy. Although some people could interpret that way if they got caught up in the way PleasePrettyLea looks, rather than the way she sounds.
Her drowning in water, screaming and throwing herself about the place (for lack of a better phrase) isn’t about writhing around and being wet for the male gaze. It’s two things. It’s physicalising of the way PleasePrettyLea’s partners toxic behaviour impacts her and also a deeper examination of why she allows those she loves to treat her in such a way.
The second point is emphasised by PleasePrettyLea the one wrapping herself up in chains, physically in the music video, and mentally in real life. It’s a clear warning sign and a message to other young women experiencing a similar affliction: Break free.
A self-proclaimed dramatic who seeks to challenge and thrill her listeners, PleasePrettyLea is innovative and unafraid to explore taboo topics like the darker elements of mental health. Which is refreshing because quite regularly my mind feels like a PleasePrettyLea video.
It’s nice to know that you’re not alone in feeling like you have to pull yourself apart to put yourself back together. And it’s also a bit astounding to see PleasePrettyLea drop truth bomb after truth bomb with weird (but somehow still aesthetic) music videos.
Watch this space.
‘Burden’ (sample) – PleasePrettyLea
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