Born Again

Born Again is an opportunity to consider what it means to become yourself in an entirely different context to the one you’re used to.

There was a time in my life when the idea of being “born again” brought to mind beauty and peace. Who doesn’t want a fresh start? Now the idea of moving to a city just two hours away fills me with anxiety around the unanswered questions: Will I make friends easily? Where will I go for coffee? Who am I going to be in this new place? These transitional times can be hard and beautiful, and not always in the linear cocoon-to-butterfly way Instagram motivation-porn would have you believe.

Ellis’s debut full-length Born Again is one that reflects on the trials and sensations of becoming someone new. Despite the difference in circumstances, this is something we are all reckoning with in some way during this paradigm-shifting pandemic. Born Again’s title track reveals one of the central metaphors of the album, as we learn about Linena Siggelkow’s growth out of Christianity and into her post-church self in the big city. Losing your religion can be as harmful as it is liberating, as tracks like “Shame” and “Embarrassing” poignantly show just how strictly religion informed emotional regulation in Siggelkow’s life. In comparison, the song “Saturn’s Return” shows comfort with becoming new again: “I’ll be dying to myself / I’ll be facing all my shit / I will look into the mirror / and I will not be ashamed”.

Born Again would be a fitting title here, even if it only referenced the sonic characteristics of Siggelkow’s work. Her critically acclaimed EP, The Fuzz, was self-produced and leaned into shoegaze territory with how it smushed everything together into an impressionistic, melodic haze. Born Again feels more spacious and more present in how it places Siggelkow’s vocals and other lead instruments front and centre as it drives home singular melodic ideas: the guitar solo at the end of “Pringle Creek” for instance or the catchy chorus of “Falling Apart”. By focusing on Siggelkow’s voice and melodic sensibilities, each song inhabits a totally new style while the whole record still feels cohesive. The down-tuned grunge guitars of some tracks would work on a record by Chastity frontman Brandon Williams (her partner), and some tracks could easily hit CBC Radio 2 next to indie-pop contemporaries like Alvvays. Partial credit has to go to producer Jake Aron for helping to weave these disparate threads together. 

Born Again is an opportunity to consider what it means to become yourself in an entirely different context to the one you’re used to. For me, it’s a reckoning with newness that’s reassuring in these times of personal and global transformation. It helps me reconcile with my anxious feelings about moving: do I go to the local pub just because it’s there? I love my friends, but I will probably love new friends too! Upon a little reflection, I’m sure there are good coffee shops everywhere, even if they are different. Born Again’s message of growth through change also hits home given current global events. As we struggle through this period of staggering change, we have an opportunity to evaluate what we can become in a world re-born. I’m certain this is not the world Siggelkow imagined her record would be released into, but her timing couldn’t have been better if she planned it.

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