CRY MFER Album Review

CRY MFER is a Trojan horse. A dream-pop album by duo My Idea, it entices you with saccharine melodies and bubble-gum beats before unleashing the pain of the artists. The band-members for My Idea, Lily Konsigberg and Nate Amos, described being in a spiral during their recording, navigating a codependent bender before emerging into sobriety. They confessed that many of their tracks were created while they were under the influence.

Perhaps that’s most obvious on “Not Afraid Anymore,” a light piano ballad about letting go of an abusive person who’s not around anymore. Konigsberg seems confused about the timing of the song, wondering aloud when she’s supposed to sing over the piano track. The song ends with Konigsberg wryly commenting, “that was definitely the take for sure.” Their choice to go forward with a bumpy take could come off as an amateurish decision by artists too dependent on substances. Instead, it’s an interesting display of artistic vulnerability on an otherwise polished record. 

Both Konigsberg and Amos are seasoned musicians in their own right. Konigsberg is part of Palberta, a noise-rock trio, while Amos is a part of indie dance pop duo Water From Your Eyes. The two met through mutual friends in the Brooklyn music scene, and began a summer of writing songs in competition with one another before deciding to record “CRY MFER” as a band. 

While alcohol and drugs may have provided the emotional fuel for their time together, the substances themselves are not the focus of the project. Instead, what comes through is the codependency they feel towards each other. On a lesser effort, perhaps their obsession with each other would get old, fast. Instead, it’s clear that the obsession they’re describing is the sickly-sweet obsession that keeps you up at night. 

This is most clear on “Breathe You,” where Amos sings through an electronic voice filter, “I don’t want to go outside, I just want to breathe you in/Something in the way you move, makes me want to shave my head.” In “I Can’t Dance, Part 2,” Amos croons again, “I don’t want to dance, I just want to watch you.” Of course, the lyrics are a bit silly, but it works well as a sweet lyric that conceals the heartbreak Amos is feeling. 

Because the album is admittedly autobiographical, you quickly get a sense that Konigsberg is a lot less sure of their new relationship than Amos is. On “Pretty You,” a country flavor instead of their usual synth pop, Konigsberg sings, “Eradicate the poison, bring me something new.”  In another example, “I Should Have Never Generated You” features the lyrics, “Heaven knows it makes me sick/I’m in pain,” a sentiment that is quite out of place on a song that sounds like it was made for a Disney pop star’s first break-out hit. On “Cry Mfer,” a cross between the Dixie Chicks’ and Carly Rae Jepsen’s musical styles, Konigsberg tells us, “I need space/I will be the one to break my heart.” 

Despite the dark undertones on CRY MFER, My Idea still remembers to have fun through all the chaos and pain they were feeling. “Lily’s Phone,” is a playful tribute to late night phone calls. “One Tree Hell,” parodies the plot of the TV show, One Tree Hill. On “Popstar,” there’s a rejection of the sadness that permeates much of the album, where Konigsberg sings, “I don’t want to cry anymore/ I want to rock n roll.”  It can be hard to distinguish between their genuinely fun songs and the songs that are only fun on the surface, which can make the listener feel more like a therapist or a private detective than a consumer of pop. 

Now that Konigsberg and Amos have emerged from their alcoholic dependency, they are able to see their album with clear eyes. “The choice to become sober has had an enormously positive impact on my life. I’m so proud of this album, but every time I listen to it I get a huge wave of relief that I’ve moved on from that mindset,” Nate Amos told Under The Radar Mag. “ I was telling myself a lot of stuff through those lyrics that were subconscious. I thought I was talking to other people, but I was talking to myself,”said Amos. 

Whether or not the toxic mindset that led them to record CRY MFER will impact their career going forward, for now the duo can rest assured that they’ve created a deeply personal –– and simultaneously fun album. 

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