The Ecstasies and Sorrows of Half Waif

Nandi Rose Plunkett's latest album explores the catch-22 of being human.

“Just trying to fill this hole that once held my whole being / Is this all there is?” Repeated in a melodic drone closing the heartbreaking first track off of Lavender by Half Waif, I sit in my dim-lit malaise reflecting on my inner waves of emotional paralysis and the illusion of complete emotional freedom and fluidity. What a time. Feeling brittle dis-inspiration from the world is something I sometimes engross myself in, however, the Half Waif record licks my existential wounds through a reminder that every (conscious) living entity’s inner alienation is an experience we all share. Nandi Rose Plunkett’s warm vocals immediately pull an emotional thread within me from the first song of Lavender through to its end.

The textures used within the record are lush. I could take a bubble bath in the synthesizers of this record. The ebb and flow of the oscillators, the drums and sampled sounds create a world, both modern and baroque, for a listener to dip their heart and mind in. If I were to compare this record to high fashion, I would say it’s like Alexander McQueen; the interplay of space and sound, the dynamics, and vocal melodies embody something both classical and fresh.

The second track, “Torches,” is chilling; “I fly through your life like an acrobat/I feed off the night and I’m afraid of that.” I question my own personal escapist tendencies in these moments, as she reflects on her mental escape to certain worlds in order to cope with her physical reality. As a human being with feelings and not a flash drive, I also do this very often (more than I’d like to admit?).

“Keep It Out” is an absurdist banger. Nandi’s awareness of humans’ capability to let each other down, to let relationships wither and bloom through projection reflects both a yearning for connection but a jadedness regarding the connection once it’s made. It makes me consider—what is true connection? What is true communication when we are limited by words, representing thoughts that are incapable of being felt except through those words? Our experiences that we share are so subjectively fulfilling, but are we ever truly sharing anything entirely? Will anyone ever be able to offer us pure love through our own “unraveling,” or is that unraveling better explored alone?

Nandi explores the catch-22 of being human—we find solace and connection with one another, yet any person can leave, disappoint you and force you to forage for yourself, no matter how much you have built a life together. She accepts, rejects, then accepts this reality, lets it roll around in her hand and looks at it from every angle. However much abandonment or loneliness is felt, there is a light discovered at the end of the tunnel—her own strength through each loss, and how each loss is a teacher of her own size, emotional capacity and ability to grow and overcome.

Through expansive, reverberant pads, pop builds, and exponential dynamics, Half Waif takes us on a journey through her inner and outer world, all the ecstasies and sorrows. The entire record is written in first person, many times beginning with “I” and an action or an observation followed by this, reflecting the fact that Nandi ultimately stands alone, observing the ebbs and flows of her reality. Lavender ends on the words “I don’t want to know how this ends/in the grand scope of things/I know.” These words tie up the record perfectly, showing an inner world and narrative within Nandi’s work and world that reflect a whimsy as well as a jadedness—walking the line of romanticizing far places and momentary connection, yet also the awareness that those places, those people could ultimately wind up just like anything else. The record explores a pace lyrically as well as musically that embodies this—the highs and lows we are capable of experiencing when we allow ourselves to be fully immersed in a tide.

Harmony Tividad is a song writer from Los Angeles, CA. She plays in the band Girlpool and finds her spare time spent deconstructing God through the lens of a person who loves stuffed animals and crystals, but from a “practical” standpoint. When not writing in third person, she finds herself usually talking in first person about the myth and the lie. Much of her life has been spent deifying her acquaintances.