Long awaited by our whole team, here it finally is. The debut album “can’t hate myself into a different shape“ by our favourite 2021 newcomer Brimheim. After releasing the “Myself Misspelled” EP in 2020 and several singles, Brimheim now shares eleven tracks of heartfelt music that is impossible to put in a box.
Helena Heinesen Rebensdorff’s stage name is a homage to her Faroese roots, translating to “home of the breaking waves”. She creates synth-pop with modern goth elements and likes to tap into the fields of grunge and electronica. I usually find it easy to put a genre label on music, but this is different. The words Brimheim herself uses are “alt pop/mom-goth/soft grunge”. Though they are all fitting, I’d rather call the genre “Brimheim”. Brimheim makes “Brimheim” music, she is her own genre, her own sound. Her creations are an art you have to experience to be able to understand. But when you do, it unfolds as poetic bliss.
What carries Brimheim’s music is her unique voice combined with delicate, yet strong and melancholic but refreshingly honest lyrics. The black hair and makeup, music videos and artworks (that she actually draws herself) remind one of the ’80s/’90s goth movement with a very modern touch. This is supported by elaborate instrumentation, produced together with the equally talented Søren Buhl Lassen of Blaue Blume, another band that can’t be put into a box genre-wise.
Following a gentle, spheric intro, the album starts with the title track, one of my favourites. Brimheim sings about self-harm, feelings of insufficience, other women always appearing to be “stronger, better, more complete“. These piercing truths are presented by delicate verses, concluding with “if I could just shave off another piece of myself.” In the last word, the verse turns into a chorus with powerful, noisy grunge guitars. This sound, paired with an elegant, full voice is something I haven’t heard in this combination before.
“It does not feel naked to create the music — it feels naked talking about it,” Brimheim said in an interview with GAFFA, “music must be vulnerable“. This is what we get on this album: brutal honesty.
Another impressive example of Brimheim’s unique sound is “poison fizzing on a tongue”. With its mysterious lyrics and soundscapes, this track has a truly goosebump-evoking energy. The accompanying music video is exquisite, with its dark scenery, snakes, swords and a medieval cemetery. Helena is probably one of the few people on this planet to look that fantastic and not a bit pretentious in a suit of armour. This LP irreversibly convinced me that Brimheim is the whole package: her melodies, voice, atmosphere and looks blend into an addictive combination for all of us who like it a little dark. (continued below)
On “this weeks laundry” Brimheim comes clean about the pressure to appear perfect and do well in all areas of life. Eat right, keep your plants alive, separate your laundry. In short, conform to the societal image of having your life in order. She desperately seeks appreciation for her efforts to please everyone, while keeping her struggles to herself. “I’ve lost 10 pounds counting calories / skipping lunch in secrecy / so that later I could have another beer / with you” is one of those relatable lines. Songs like “lonely is beauty”, “straight into traffic” and the interlude “like a wedding” showcase an intimate, tender Brimheim and stay clear from louder instrumentation.
“can’t hate myself into a different shape” feels like getting to know her as a person. Over the course of this album, I’ve learnt so much about Brimheim’s struggles and innermost feelings, it almost feels like we became friends somehow. I can relate so well to her experiences, as can many from my generation known as millennials. Helena does not just make music, she has something to say. She authentically tells us stories. And that’s what — besides the unique mix of vocals, instrumentation and visual arts — makes Brimheim so exciting.