Album opener “Bloodline” epitomises this bittersweet modus operandi. 15 seconds into its dainty acoustic strum , Gallardo adamantly sulks “I’m fucked up” - the salvo of a lyric about feeling like a family disappointment. As the track lifts up into a cascading gaze-pop rush, recalling the likes of Bachelor and Snail Mail, we’re blessed with a pristine elegance that belies the song’s raging core. “I have always written music this way.”, she says of this fundamental contradiction. “It’s funny because I try so hard to write darker-sounding songs and they always come out way too pretty. So, I’ve resorted to writing the most gut-wrenching and intense lyrics to compensate.”
Written mostly during peak-pandemic times in Gallardo’s bedroom - (“you can hear how scared and alone I was.”) - the songs that made their way onto Defamator arose from a concerted period of healing. Drawing from the teachings of therapy, the songwriting process gave her the means to channel some deeply entrenched emotional scars.
This venting of anger is implicit throughout the record. The album’s title - Gallardo’s own neologism - uses the concepts of “defamation” and “defamatory speech” to innovate a kind of pejorative accusation. As a result, it is like we are actively listening to Gallardo forcefully take command of her past. Of the title track she explains: “The song Defamator is about someone who spoke untruthful things about me in order to manipulate me and the way people perceived me and I felt that was an underlying theme in most of the album.”
Recorded at Jazzcat Studios in Long Beach California with Jonny Bell (Hanni El Khatib, Adult Books, etc.) Defamator marks Gallardo’s first time in a “legitimate recording studio”. And it shows. Bell’s production is vital moving part here. There’s more stripped back affairs - ‘There Will Be Blood”; ”The Way’ - songs which gently seethe and purr like Grouper’s spectral dream-pop; Gallardo’s fluttering folk-ish voice gloriously pushed to forefront.
2) God Is Dead
3) There W`ill Be Blood
6) New Jersey
7) To See You Go
8) The Way
9) Last Dance
10) New Jersey (Reprise)