Words by Emily Hollitt AKA Malina Claire
Finding comfort within discomfort is the main dichotomy driving Gordi’s sophomore record ‘Our Two Skins’. Written in a period where she felt truly that everything in her life was ending; finishing her medical studies and ending her “nice, safe, but stagnant” long-term relationship, reality was confusing and uncertain. She began to unravel more and more about her own identity, falling in love with a friend she had known for years while Australia was deciding whether LGBTQI+ people were going to win the right to marry. In her own word “It was the most devastating way to fall in love with somebody”. Facing new anxieties and complete new territory, she was faced with the challenges of a changing reality, and she penned that changing reality into 10 songs.
Aeroplane Bathroom opens the record on an intriguing note. Penned literally in an aeroplane between Sydney and Europe before a 6 week stint where she was left away from home and away from everything she wanted, experiencing isolation and loneliness. On the track, she says;
“It’s like all the adrenaline of the last two months just dropped away and I had a little nervous breakdown thinking about all these big changes. I was seeing my life that I thought was evolving in one direction and now it was evolving in this other direction”
The song is slow in its delivery, 6 minutes of limitless thought. The song feels lonely; stripped back to predominately resonance and silence. The track opens with the question that echoes throughout the entire album “Do you see yourself unravelling?”. Faced with uncertainty, the track is deflated and uncertain stream of consciousness- a woman trying to come to terms with her confusion. Her voice reaches to what sounds to be almost out of range, sung in a way that translates as if it is uncomfortable for her, as is the situation she is headed towards. “I’m so sick of coming undone. Meet a stranger, be the danger of inference now. I’m unwilling to allow you thinking less of me”. The bareness of the lyrics and the space between each note makes them feel as lonely as Gordi felt when writing the song. “I can’t get my shit together in the aeroplane bathroom. I’m wondering why I haven’t seen myself before” she speaks candidly in each chorus.
Unready appears unsuspectingly, upping the pace of the album in a way that completely juxtaposes the previous track. The bass is heavy but the instrumentation is quick, fusing the emotions of anxiety and excitement. “The ground underneath my feet is cold. I wasn’t looking for you.” She sings about finding her new partner at a time full of endings, unprepared for a beginning. The song utilises the anxieties of change and re-evaluates them to appear as a driving force towards something new; exciting; better.
Sandwiches follows, a highlight for me on the record. Fusing elements of folk rock and pop, the steady beat and driving guitars continue the idea of propelling forward just like the track preceding it. “You were on the phone, every time we get home and I think I thought you’d be there” she sings simply. “When I think of you a movie reel of moments plays. We’ll be in the car or after mass on Saturdays.”. In Atwood Magazine, Gordi reveals the song was about the loss of her late Grandmother, both mourning her loss and celebrating her life, captured in a series of specific memories and imagery. “We made sandwiches and then they said you’d left” she sings, recalling exactly where she was and exactly what she was doing when she heard the news.
“I have these moments where I panic, when I shut down and go manic. So eruptive and destructive like within I am volcanic.” she sings in Volcanic, detailing the hardships of being away from her partner. The song begins in a similar style as the track before, a gentle, atmospheric pop ballad, before deviating into solo piano and speeding up into a manic ending. At the point this track was written, she still hadn’t come out to her whole family, particularly her aforementioned grandmother who, at the time, she had intended not to tell. The mix of feelings of missing her partner and the risk of the strain she could have had with her family lead to the writing of this track, and the emotion peaked through clearly. On her last conversation with her grandmother she said “Your dad told me. I love you.” Ridding her of most of her fears. The track, however, tackles those anxieties head on- the mix of loneliness and uncertainty are reflected beautifully through the minimal, lyric-focused production and the somewhat chaotic ending portray the inherent sadness and mixed anxiety that comes with her scenario. It plays out like a conversation with a close friend- you feel like you are right there with her. Piano-lead ballad Radiator follows, a beautiful love song with a sad, uncertain undertone. The song quite plainly details her feelings towards her partner riddled with the uncertainty and associated risks of coming to terms with your own sexuality. The track plays out like a movie, using specific references and imagery of being with this person; “…and what I told you outside the service station, I had felt that way so long.” and “In the backseat of a taxi where my body was a radiator red, I was in a universe of you”. “Intoxicating, devastating, there was no more hesitating”, the music pauses, isolating the line “I had to love you”, one of the most powerful and emotional moments on the album.
The pace picks up with Extraordinary Life. “It’s like you’re in my chest, it’s like you’re in my lungs” she sings about her newfound love. “The way I need you now is more than to survive, I want to give you an extraordinary life.” With this line, the album feels like it’s reached it’s second half, where she finally not only comes with who she is and how she feels, but embraces it. “I will hold you closer than you have been held and I will tell that I know there’s no one else and when you look at me the weight of how I feel weighs heavy on me”. Choir-like harmonies echo beneath her lead line, almost like embracing herself and new the relationship is a spiritual awakening, loosely tying in to her catholic family background. Hate the World begins with a single high pitched noise before gentle guitars and a simple beat cuts in. “I will not illuminate your words and I will persevere until it hurts”. “Who was it that watered you who once was sons and daughters too so I can understand how you came about” she sings, empathically viewing the world around her and those who may not understand her. The song has a triumphant tone, as she comes to terms with herself.
“So if I don’t tread on an aisle, and I save some money and invest it in a little while. Untouchable and true because you’re looking at me thinking why don’t I look like you” she sings over gentle piano in Look Like You. The piano plays simple block chords, forcing the listener to focus on the lyrics as she lays them bare before you. In the last chorus, she sings with a bit more drive and power in her vocals than previously, again expressing that triumphant, over-coming and striving feel from the previous track. Limits begins with heavy drums, textural synths and her gentle, heavily reverberated vocals, beginning what I consider the anthemic high-point of the record. “You asked if I would eat dinner with you, your friends came along but I forgot the were there too” she sings about the early stages of her relationship. “So come stand in my kitchen, come on and sleep in my bed, ‘cos I want to give you familiar…” she sings, representing she fully accepts how she feels, yet still not regarding the struggles and the steps she took to get there. “I pushed and I pulled until nothing felt bigger than this” she sings about her internal battle with accepting the relationship and who she is.
“I just don’t know how to love you best” she sings at the tail-end of the chorus to the album’s closer Free Association. The gentle steady pop song is calming yet somewhat disconcerting at times, resonating her deep connection to her partner and her fears about not knowing if she’s loving her right and all the associated fears of getting so close and intimate to somebody. “I’m envious of sheets that wrap around you, my hopelessness in how I feel about you, is it dangerous to love you like I love you…”. “I won’t see you for a while. I want to feel you breathe heavily on me…. And just sit with you silently” she states, referencing her trip to Europe away from her new love, the chords often deviating away from what you would expect, representing her discomfort in how she felt about this. The drums grow heavier as the instrumental grows more cluttered, representing the intensity of the emotions she feels, lingering far after the song is over. Room noise closes the album, humanising and re-grounding the listener, before she closes the door. This atmospheric room sound connects back to the album’s opener, allowing the album to be played from start to finish infinitely with the both the opener and the closer. Free Association represents her leaving before Aeroplane Bathroom shows her dealing with her emotions at the most isolating point when she is on the plane to her trip alone. By doing so, Gordi effectively allows the listener to hear the journey she has laid out chronologically throughout the album with fresh perspectives, hope and realisation, ending the album brilliantly, intentionally showing that despite her anxieties she was okay and if you as the listener are going through a similar personal journey, you will be too.
‘OUR TWO SKINS’ IS DUE FOR RELEASE ON JUNE 26, 2020
VIA LIBERATION RECORDS
PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE HERE
With thanks to Mushroom + Liberation Records