Megan Arnold musically documents these uncertain times with GOOD, a wonderfully weird mix of pop experimentation.
Whether there’s intention in the music or not, it’s hard for us music writers to not relate everything to the pandemic. Linking GOOD — the first album under Megan Arnold’s own name since shedding her Shhh moniker — to the pandemic does not take a leap of logic; it was all recorded in the first few months of quarantine. Time period aside, this is truly a quarantine record — quick songs composed on GarageBand and recorded on a microphone attached to earbuds. A few of the songs also capture the distinctly weird feelings quarantine makes us experience.
With most songs falling within the one- to two-minute range, Arnold uses her brief time to get her thoughts and feelings out with impressive efficiency. Her lyrics range from funny to depressing, all backed by groovy bedroom-pop beats. One song is literally a person’s shopping list, sung verbatim, including entries like “Nanas” and “Washing up liquid” and “Milk alternative.” While taking a “Walkthrough of the Dream House,” you get an ASMR-like, barely audible description of a house buried under layers of beats. There’s a fun layer of dissonance in “New Year Snapshot,” where Arnold’s more mellow singing style switches to alarmingly bright and cheery as it documents the story of working a shitty early-morning shift. Her vocals switch back to mellow later, however, when she miraculously has the energy to see a large group of friends and feels recharged.
Arnold’s quarantine observations are pretty spot on, too. “Staying Inside” puts to words our need to see (and touch) another human being. She sings of taking twenty-minute walks just to get a wave from a window and of wishing she could coax her (I assume) cat, Thiefheart, in her bed: “You’re a softness I can’t get from Zoom.” Quarantine has a happier side on “Discreet Dancing,” a song about the joys of dancing in your own apartment where no one can see you. But, on the other hand, there’s a heavy loneliness in both “Fog Lane” and “Same View Every Day” that manifests in different ways: on the former, Arnold finds activities to do alone (like birdwatching), while on the latter she’s despairing. She correctly notes that time has no meaning anymore and that hoping for the best just doesn’t cut it.
In just under twenty minutes, Arnold musically documents these uncertain times and provides a wonderfully weird mix of pop experimentation. Come for the quarantine-based empathy, and stay for lyrics like “I licked a stamp with my sticky noodle pangolin tongue”.