Indigo De Souza has quickly become one of the most exciting indie acts of the year. Every single she’s released so far off her forthcoming record, Any Shape You Take (due August 27), is capable of eliciting the same reaction: “Holy fucking shit.” Not only does she have a distinct, inviting voice, but she has a seamless way of crafting songs that capture a full range of emotions: They can switch from horny to sorrowful in an instant, and linger long after the first listen.
“Kill Me” and “Hold U” are so excellent that it’s hard to top them, but De Souza’s latest single, “Real Pain,” is just as impressive. This one feels more solemn than the others, with the Saddle Creek artist singing about allowing herself to feel compassion for her former self’s fuck-ups. In expressing understanding and forgiveness in the face of grief, the singer has created an anthem for those of us who get tortured with anxious thoughts over past mistakes—with the song serving as a reminder that perhaps, like De Souza, we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.
But the true catharsis of the song comes from its expertly arranged screaming. Featuring a medley of howls from different voices, it’s arguably the most effective musical use of screams since Phoebe Bridgers’ “I Know The End.” Like De Souza, Bridgers starts off her closing track on Punisher with a mellow, sorrowful tone, gradually picking up the pace towards the end, until reaching a crescendo of screams paired with intense instrumentals. But unlike Bridgers, De Souza’s song features a choir of howls—ones which, in contrast with “I Know The End’s” solitary scream, evoke the sense of collective release.
For the song, De Souza requested that fans send in recordings of their “screams, yells, and anything else”; she then layered their voices on top of one another to create the effect. The cathartic moment comes right after she sings, ”I don’t believe the things I’ve done / I don’t believe the way I’ve been / Going, going, going, going, going, going, going, going, going,” segueing out of that repeated term of departure to serve as an interlude of sorts. It’s a moment that makes the chorus following it feel even more powerful, as De Souza sweetly and softly sings, “I wanna kick, wanna scream / I wanna know it’s not my fault / I wanna know it’s not my fault / I didn’t mean it.” The impact of De Souza’s songs don’t just come from the lyrics; it’s marked by her delivery, with a cooing warmth, sounding like your conscience gently reminding you that you don’t need to inflict this mental agony on yourself.