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Album Review: ‘Anxiety Avoidant’ – Sophia Bel

by Krystal Perez, Albright College

Album Review: ‘Anxiety Avoidant’ – Sophia Bel

Inspired by the bright and playful sounds of the early 2000s, Anxious Avoidant is Sophia Bel’s departure from what defined her in the past. Exploring the relationships and feelings of her teenage years, she goes above and beyond. This album is a vulnerable story that gathers its force from Bel’s high energy. Finding its way into the listener’s heart by reminding us of early pop-punk music, while tugging at heartstrings by bringing on nostalgic memories of past relationships and emotions. Filled with sweet ballads, pop-punk hymns, melodic guitar riffs, and a creative approach to Y2K music, Bel delivers a straightforwardness of suppressed emotions.

The influence of the 2000s is transparent in the first notes of the opening track ‘All F***ing Weekend’. Starting the album with an exciting guitar riff and a harmonic chorus before climaxing into a crescendo, with Sophia Bel’s digitally altered vocals. The song brings up one question to begin the album- “what are we?” A question that haunts every relationship of younger generations. Painting a picture of the sweet thrill of having a relationship, along with the nerve-wracking, annoying, guessing games of figuring out if they’re really down for you.

This type of anticipation is indeed anxiety inducing; there is a need to know paired with the crippling fear of knowing. The fear of abandonment can be so great it can make you put it off, prolonging the answer, yet the anxiety stays. The song ends with Bel having enough of her worries and confronts her partner. The anxiety built up in the lyrics melts away with a dynamic tempo change, some angsty screaming, and a distinctive pop-punk countermelody.

The other two focus tracks on the album showcase different types of emotional turmoil and anxiety. ‘2am (And I Did It Again)’ starts with a stoner rock and garage type of sound, while illustrating Bel’s use of music as an emotional outlet. Bel sings on the chorus, “2am and I did it again / Broke my hand trying to say it with a pen / Putting up a fight no one heard at night / Sleeping in”. This gives rise to how difficult it is to express emotions when it’s easier to suppress them, but depressingly painful because you want to be heard, just don’t know how to say it. In ‘Lonely After Curfew’ an intimate pop-country ballad, she sings, “Sometimes I wonder if it’s alright / To hold your hand in plain sight / Kiss you in the daylight.”, “Sometimes I don’t ask no questions / Cuz I don’t want the answers / Scared of what I might find”. Bel explores the fears of codependency and abandonment. Expressing the struggle of not wanting to seem reliant on someone, but not wanting to be lonely.

This album is the musical demonstration of everyday struggles for people with anxiety. Holding incitement to the mental struggles of wanting to be seen, but not wanting the spotlight; wanting to be heard, but can’t express it; wanting space, but not wanting to be left alone; wanting someone, but not feeling good enough for them. Bel has gone through every phase it seems, but most importantly, she has overcome them. By revisiting her past relations and feelings she managed to accept them as a part of her, making her a stronger woman.