As she approached her thirties, Half Waif, also known as Nandi Rose, became less enamoured with her New York City lifestyle. She grew tired of screeching trains, constant touring and recordings squeezed into the few free moments she could salvage from working her three jobs. Seeking more time and space to focus on herself and her art, Rose, wearing the self-professed parodic costume of the late-twenties New Yorker, moved upstate.
The album that followed, 2018’s Lavender, was about her new surroundings, seeking comfort in the time she could now afford herself to, for instance, “marvel at the way the light strikes and hangs on the bowed pine branches in my backyard”.
With The Caretaker, Half Waif turns inward, ruminating on ageing and the potential loneliness of her new situation. The album has a mesmerising intimacy as Rose delivers a set of songs which feel at once introspective and universal in scope. With Halogen 2, Rose, characterised by her signature heady synths, looks at the space in front of her, scanning the wilderness for life. She seems to take comfort in the loneliness, repeating, “I do what I must”, as she seems to accept her lot. As introspective as this seems, Rose taps into a universality of feeling, namely coming to terms with the slowing influence of one’s thirties.
To Rose’s credit, she has tapped into the space between the deeply personal experience of navigating the acutely troubling process of one’s ageing body and the ubiquitousness of said human process. Rose counters her self-actualised lyricism with the resounding beats and uproarious choruses found on Clouds Rest and My Best Self: these are sad songs in the major key, a tricky thing to get right, especially in the medium of electro-pop.
To put it simply, Half Waif has got it right: with all good pop, the structures are familiar but the execution is all her own. It is an achingly heartfelt and provokingly intimate album which is equally arresting in terms of its ambition and sonic intricacies. An album which demands to be lost in.