Miss Grit– Follow The Cyborg
Miss Grit is the project of New York-based musician Margaret Sohn, created “to function as an outlet for their own analysis and expression of self.” After two EPs (Talk, Talk in 2019 and Impostor in 2021) which explored identity and relationships, their debut album, Follow The Cyborg, delves deeper into these issues. Taking inspiration from the idea of a cyborg (and from related films and literature, such as Ghost In The Shell and A Cyborg Manifesto), Sohn intertwines such futuristic concepts with their experiences as a mixed-race, non-binary artist to create a deeply personal yet relatable multifaceted record, packed dense with modern themes while remaining catchy to the ear.
Befitting a modern sounding album with a title like Follow The Cyborg, there are synthesizers aplenty here. But the guitar lines that punctuate many of the songs are spine chillingly good, and it would be doing the album a disservice to simply call it electronic. There is an organic use of electronic sounds—this isn’t club music, but there are beats aplenty, and the rhythms will have listeners tapping their toes and moving to the groove.
Kicking off the album is “Perfect Blue,” a track that shares a name with Satoshi Kon‘s famous film dealing with identity, performance and reality. With a gentle beginning that slowly builds through jagged edges and swirling vocals, it’s a great preview of what to expect from the rest of the album. “I’m not going back / I’ll be all I’ve consumed I’m what you asked / I’ll be the perfect blue / Can take a breath now” Sohn sings, staking out their awareness of the demands of the world around them and their attempts at actualization in the face of it.
The singles “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Like You” are well chosen, showcasing Sohn’s use of both slower and mid range tempos as a basis for building a song. Steady rhythms really are the backbone of this record, which Sohn uses in almost Kraftwerk-like precision as they build layers over top. On “Lain (phone clone)” Sohn hits upon an anxiety I’m sure many of us relate to, singing, “Hold up your hands if you can’t hold up the act / Hold up your hands if your two lives overlap / Hold up your hands if you want your memories back / Hold up your hands and let go of your phone clone” (For those of you who may not be versed in anime, the song title references Serial Experiments Lain; suddenly I wonder what a Miss Grit cover of the Lain opening theme would sound like…)
By the time Follow The Cyborg reaches the end on “Syncing,” Sohn is dealing with both individual realizations and interpersonal connections: “I’m starting to move on my own now / And I don’t want to forget how / … When we sync up…(my heart was open, for you) I’ll be there soon (hold up your hands, like you, can take a breath now).” It’s a softer, pulsing song that nonetheless maintains the energy built up through the previous nine tracks, and lists Nicole Rodriguez aka Pearla as a co-writer.
Miss Grit (photo by Hoseon Sohn)
Sohn performs the guitar, vocals, and synths on the album, with various other musicians making guest appearances throughout on strings (Dorothy Carlos on cello, Yaz Lancaster on violin), drums (Greg Tock and Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint), piano (Ben Talmi) sax (Kacey Fassett) and bass (Zoltan Sindhu, although Sohn handles the bass as well on the final track.) The record was recorded and produced by Sohn as well—it’s easy to see why NME called them a “polymath” in 2019.
Follow The Cyborg is an intricate record that will reward repeated listens. Prior to the album’s release, Miss Grit played a hometown release show at Baby’s All Right. They will hit the road in the UK in April with Bartees Strange.
Follow The Cyborg is out now via Mute Records and is available on all major streamers.