Rachel Brown keeps their foot on the gas pedal. In addition to making experimental art-rock as one half of Water From Your Eyes, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter has uploaded over 80 solo releases to Bandcamp as Thanks for Coming, even releasing this year’s self-deprecatingly titled highlight compilation You Haven’t Missed Much to help newcomers navigate their sprawling catalog. For them, churning out tracks keeps their creative muscles active and frees them from overthinking. But their latest EP, What Is My Capacity to Love?, shows how speed can be a disservice too, with candid self-reflections on romance that can feel undercooked.
Brown’s Water From Your Eyes bandmate Nate Amos mastered every song on the EP, but What Is My Capacity to Love? is a far cry from the cacophony of their band. The lone similarity is a discordant guitar line running through “Melted,” which could be one of the rubbery riffs on Everyone’s Crushed. Instead, Brown prefers barren, lo-fi bedroom pop where errors only add to the music’s charm. On “Try Again,” they tumble off beat while rushing through the central refrain, as if to mirror being mentally distracted by crush. “Depends” is thrust forward by emotional, almost lackadaisical strumming that recalls the tender twee of the Softies; Brown confesses to the dangers of loving someone too hard, the spare instrumentation magnifying their vulnerable delivery.
Brown’s mesmerizing, almost detached singing anchors the music of both Water From Your Eyes and Thanks for Coming. It can be deceptively dynamic, and on What Is My Capacity to Love?, they try on different vocal styles: fluttering falsettos, glossy whispers, irritated talk-speak. While it’s thrilling to hear Brown play around with their delivery, sometimes their words feel cheap. As they reminisce on a past relationship in the EP opener, they lean on eyeroll-worthy punchlines: “I wish I’d captured you like a photograph/I wish I had/But still life is still life.” Their petulant enunciations on “Postcard”—“I broke my heart then I blamed him, framed him for the crime”—further underscore the juvenile writing.
What Is My Capacity to Love? is like a heartfelt mixtape that slipped through the metal divider of your high school locker. Maybe it’s because of the voice note that closes the album, which is spoken directly into the microphone like some last-ditch confessional: “I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you—but you will,” Brown says at the end of “Spotless Mind,” resignation weighing down their voice. “You know you will think of things, and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me. Okay? Okay.” The pent-up feelings emanating from that final passage are intense—and it’s this intensity that helps elevate “Spotless Mind” from more humdrum bedroom pop. If only What Is My Capacity to Love? could maintain that heart-piercing tension throughout. The homespun quality of Thanks for Coming songs draws them close to the chest, but the music deserves a more striking, realized form too.