Gianna Lauren explores the tension between being visible and invisible on Vanity Metrics.
Whenever I am asked (and it’s usually during some awkward icebreaker exercise which makes my response come even more naturally) “if you could have any super power, what would it be?” my answer is always “invisibility.” To have the choice to disappear entirely from uncomfortable social situations, to have a respite from feeling like all eyes are on you, sounds remarkable. To me, it is the exact antidote that I need when I become — or feel like I’ve become — the centre of attention and my face burns bright.
Gianna Lauren wrestles with invisibility on her latest EP Vanity Metrics, where it’s presented as both a superpower and a curse. To begin, on top of the steady pounds of gritty guitar chords, Lauren gently sings, “Some days I feel alive. Some days I need to hide.” As the EP’s opening track “Spark” continues to unfold, it feels like Lauren is dissociating as she likens herself to a machine and struggles to find connection. But Lauren’s most relatable gut-punch comes in the chorus when she sings: “Before I die I wanna tell you I love you. But while I’m alive I’m gonna hide.” The instinctual impulse to show your heart to somebody is overwhelming at times, but the comfort that comes with staying hidden seems to always win out.
Throughout Vanity Metrics, Lauren returns to the tension between being visible and invisible. On “Woah,” she sits in the dark and is filled with the memories of somebody: “Whoa I think of you in the dark,” she sings, surprised that her mind doesn’t allow her to be completely alone. Although “Closed Chapter” starts off with a nimble guitar melody, dread slowly creeps in as the guitar turns rougher and louder. Lauren looks in the mirror but quickly looks away, frustrated by her inability to connect with herself. After a long drive haunted by voices from the past and present (“Innocent Tourist”), on “Disappear,” the final song of Vanity Metrics, Lauren’s voice becomes the same muted shade of the sullen, and entrancing, atmospheric-rock instrumentals that surround her. And just when you think she is going to break free from this fog, as the instrumentals start to build, she sings, “but as soon as you get there, you go on, and disappear,” and she becomes invisible once again.
But Lauren is not invisible. Here she is pouring out of your speakers or headphones engaged in a very visible act: sharing her art with the public. With nine other artists by her side – including Jennah Barry and a whole host of Pony Girl members – Lauren puts aside her desire to hide and instead chooses to be vulnerable and spend time with her community. And it’s that ability to push back against the lure of invisibility that’s the real superpower.