A number of years ago, I witnessed a great display of social prowess. A co-worker of mine was introduced to somebody they had met before, but the person they were introduced to had no memory of it. When they shook hands with my co-worker and said, “It’s nice to meet you,” my co-worker sweetly responded, “It’s nice to meet you again.”
This interaction came to mind when I was listening to the new tracks by Boniface, the first music from the Winnipeg-based act led by Michele ii Visser since the release of her band’s self-titled album in 2020. In a video posted to Boniface’s YouTube channel last month, Visser speaks candidly about where she’s been the past three years: Visser burned out, got dropped by her labels, was deeply depressed, had two mental breakdowns, came out as trans, decided to prioritize her health, and rediscovered how writing music can be healing. She assures us, though, that she is still emo.
With “2020” and “I’m the Killer,” Visser reintroduces herself. “2020” is a brief splintered synth-pop track that acts as a preface to “I’m a Killer.” Visser lays it all bare as the warped layers of her voice emphasize the “fractured identity” she pinpoints in the song. “I forgot how to sleep / I’ve been high every night since 2020 / Feeling burnt out and broken with no one to hold me,” she sings. “2020” seamlessly bleeds into “I’m the Killer,” and while the sonic intensity of the former track is dialled down, Visser is no less ardent. Stuttering beats and glassy synths envelop Visser as she methodically eliminates everything that has caused her harm.
I’ve been a fan of Visser’s since her 2015 debut, ok night, a recording now lost in the annals of the internet. To witness her grow into a rock star on Boniface and now, with these new songs, into an alt-pop princess has been a joy. On “Waking up in Suburbia,” the opening track of Boniface, Visser sings, “Isn’t it marvelous the way we left our old bodies behind?” Marvelous, indeed.