Painted Zeros latest album sees Brooklyn-based songwriter Katie Lau through a journey of facing her demons and overcoming them. When You Found Forever has a variety of acoustic pop and fuzz-rock songs with the ability to rouse or soothe. Lau has a sincere, heart-on-your-sleeve approach to lyrics which she uses to express her struggle with relationships, substance abuse and self-destructive habits. Although the mood can get gloomy at times, it is contrasted with tongue-in-cheek humor and bright melodies.
Listening to the album from start to finish is what I highly recommend. As this way we can see a character’s development from falling to rock bottom, to picking herself up and growing towards a positive change.
Opening track “How We Can Be” rounds out the emotional pallet of the album with its gentle piano and vocals. Lau eases you in with a pleasant acoustic arrangement that lays out the albums overarching theme of going through turbulent times.
“Fuck My Life” follows Lau in her struggles with alcohol and the downward spiral of addiction. A swirl of heavy distorted riffs and punchy rhythms illustrates the hard-hitting realization that you’ve made a lot of wrong choices. “Break” is where Lau’s vocal prowess shines. In it she goes through an emotional breakdown and ruminates on how her past relationships went south.
“How Much Do I Hate” has the post-punk influence that traces her roots from the NY DIY scene. A fuzzed-out romp that goes through a falling-out in a toxic relationship: “Your moods come with storms poised and runs from your mouth / Pour salt on my heart just to bring the rain out.”
By the end of the album, Lau takes on a more positive and vibrant tone. “I Will Try” is a highlight with hopeful melodies and radiant guitar riffs. Every lyric is sung with conviction, and the somber mood of the previous tracks are washed away as she proclaims: “I will try / not to be sad / My epithet / she did her best.” Another favorite of mine is “November Snow”, with dreamy vocals and somber acoustic guitars. We find Lau recollecting her past mistakes and learning to move on from them: “The further back I step / The more I see / I finally see the forest / when before there were just trees.”
When You Found Forever is a perfect listen for those who are going through hard times and are in need of a virtual hug. It’s a journey that we can see ourselves in, and even for a brief moment, it reminds us that we are not alone.
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