Geez Louise’s name sounds like exasperation. But there’s also a cheeky tinge to the name, the way the bright pastel coloring on their first single’s cover cuts the edge of the oozing graffiti font and makes you wonder if they’re being kind of tongue-in-cheek by using “Geez Louise” instead of something much more vulgar.
Geez Louise is an indie rock band, a group formed in 2019 by frontwoman Sierra Torres and lead guitarist Nick Jude, and shortly after by bassist David Moran and drummer Gabe Brassfield. In their first studio single, “Bomb Shelter”, the Nashville-based foursome puts on display a refreshing ability to pair sunny melodies and rhythms with more serious and thoughtful subject matter. Torres opens the song with a declaration of self-awareness, “I shouldn’t need a bomb shelter / Shouldn’t need a bomb shelter / Shouldn’t need a bomb shelter / To hide from you.” She repeats the verse like a mantra, as if by the end of the song she’ll have fully convinced herself of her own words. Though Torres’s excellent easygoing vocals are exaggerated by slight reverb, she grows conviction as the drums swell to offer her support. With more assertion, it seems more like Torres is repeating herself to get through to an ex-partner’s thick head rather than calm herself. She’s not the one who needs to hear this.
“Bomb Shelter” is a song about both physical and emotional abuse, plainly evident in raw lines like, “Tired of covering every bruise / No matter how I fight I’ll lose, I’ll lose” and “I’m at the mercy of your shifty moods / Hyper analyze your attitudes.” Torres’s and Jude’s lyrics reveal sharpened mindfulness after a period of pain. “Going into this I should’ve known / I’d need an M1 helmet just to come home,” Torres sings; her delivery doesn’t sound regretful but reveals an invigorating dose of newfound clarity. In a short instrumental interlude, the confident drums and breezy guitars restate this resolve: self-empowerment gained from understanding after experiencing constricting abuse.
There’s a photo on Geez Louise’s Facebook page promoting “Bomb Shelter” where the four members lie on the ground, draped over one another. Eyes empty, faces bruised, bodies broken down, the foursome looks like they’ve been through it all. But scroll up or down on the page and you’ll see vibrant colors and lively group pictures from a disposable camera. Geez Louise’s musical style mimics this duality: discussions of serious and distressing issues underlying deceptively sunny melodies. This is a huge part of why “Bomb Shelter” works so well. It’s a relatively simple song that doesn’t make huge showy displays, but their talent in using direct lyricism and creating catchy melodies and riffs shines through in a song that tackles an important topic. I’m excited to hear what will come next.