“Waiting for the Laughter” 

Since 2017’s The Fight Within, iskwē has explored the far corners of her electronic pop anthems, pulling anthemic rock choruses from singles such as “Little Star” or the skittering trip-hop of “Healers.” While she never shied away from self-portraits, her songwriting always felt politically charged – clarion calls bedecked with pulsing synths and soaring string arrangements. 

In that sense, “Waiting For The Laughter” marks a shift that may be due to the isolation and heartbreak she experienced during the pandemic. With producer Damien Taylor, iskwē released a string of singles throughout 2023, all sharing that stark focus on personal themes. 

“Waiting For The Laughter” is no different. What starts as an homage to early 90s ambient synths is punctuated by trickling harps. iskwē starts singing sardonically here, and there’s no doubt she’s referring to herself as “propped up by [her] hairpin.” There’s a sense that she’s tired; each time she faces the mirror, there are “Brand new lines, deeper creases.” 

It’s interesting, too, that the song never entirely breaks into a pop chorus but seethes beneath her cooing, “I’m waiting for the laughter.” iskwē is not looking for an answer but a reprieve, and it’s worth mentioning that Taylor’s production mirrors that sense of stasis; it never boils over but simmers while the marching band snare ends with a whimpered halt. If iskwē is not forging new artistic territory, she is undoubtedly spending more time in a less-travelled space. Seeing how these songs come together on her upcoming album, nīna, will be worthwhile.

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