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  • Writer's pictureGemma Cockrell

ALBUM REVIEW: Bored at My Grandmas House - Show & Tell

Amber Strawbridge finds comfort in the present on her debut album as Bored at My Grandmas House

Your early 20s are perhaps one of the strangest times of your life. If you attend university, there is so much to navigate as you emerge back into the ‘real’ world – and this is the period of time that Amber Strawbridge, AKA Bored at My Grandmas House, finds herself on the cusp of when writing Show & Tell.

Within her final year of uni, in the safety of her own bedroom, the album began to take its form, as Strawbridge found herself in a stage of introspection, trying to understand herself and her brain. She deeply analyses the theme of connection – with herself, with the world, and with those around her.

The result of this comes to fruition in tracks such as ‘Moving Slow’, an ode to feeling lost in your early 20s and all of the things that accompany this, as well as ‘Friendship Bracelets’, where Strawbridge attempts to adapt to moving away from home and losing friendships along the way.

You may feel, from this description, that this sounds like a very honest and open record – which it is – but it’s clear that this doesn’t come naturally to Strawbridge. Take the lyrics of the title track, ‘Show & Tell’: “I only give out the blurb and never the book, it’s how I stay so fucking closed off.”

But by writing and recording these lyrics in her bedroom, a place where she feels it is safe to be vulnerable, Strawbridge is able to tap into this side of herself elsewhere on the album, despite the warning that ‘Show & Tell’ gives towards the start of proceedings.

On ‘Imposter Syndrome’, for example, she details how difficult she finds it to share her music with the world, leaving it open to feedback and critique. Meanwhile, on ‘Heavy Head’, she opens up about how her mental health can sometimes interfere with completing day-to-day tasks, and ‘Don’t Do Anything Stupid’ further discloses the effect that the seasons can have on this.

In a 'stage of introspection': Amber Strawbridge, AKA Bored at My Grandmas House (photo credit: Misha Warren)

Despite these tracks having been taken to the studio since they were initially recorded as demos, they don’t lose their DIY charm. Instead, Alex Greaves (Brdmm, Working Men’s Club, TRAAMS) gives them a studio twist without losing their essence, fusing the original bedroom pop sounds with elements of dream pop and shoegaze.

There is no shortage to the themes which are covered on Show & Tell – anxiety, friendship,

introspection, love, human greed, mental health, loss and empathy (or a lack of it) in the world – but this doesn’t take away from the weight of each subject, nor Strawbridge’s trademark pop sensibilities. Instead, it simply serves to demonstrate just how complex this stage of your life can be, and just how many different things there are to consider, process and think about.

But there is light among the darkness, which emerges on the tracks which discuss the theme of love – particularly queer love, centred around Strawbridge’s current relationship with her girlfriend. ‘I Like What You Bring Out In Me’ and ‘We See The World In The Same Way’ explore the realisation that someone else makes you a better person, and the self-assuredness that can grow from meeting someone who interprets things in the same way that you do.

Ultimately, it is the connections that we form with others that are the light at the end of the tunnel, while we are still figuring out our connection to ourselves, as well as our connection to the wider world around us, and this is the take home message from Show & Tell.

Strawbridge may not come to a breakthrough point in her journey by the end of the runtime, but that’s almost comforting in itself – we are all still growing and evolving, and it’s important to take comfort in the present.

Rating: 7.9/10

Show & Tell is out on Friday, 14 June, via CLUE Records


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