words: Alex Wexelman
Previously the catchiest song in Emma Witmer’s cache, “bb gurl” is about allowing your darkest subconscious thoughts to become conscious. Explicitly, it’s about waking from a dream in which a crush’s girlfriend has died and the feeling of disappoint when the reality hits that she’s still alive.
During the outro, Witmer sings, “I don't care, I don't care / I know it's wrong to say it” over the sound of a Casio CT-401, her instrument of choice for her synth-pop project gobbinjr.
It seems counter to our values to admit such thoughts. Like farting in public, reveling in such negativity is a faux pas, but if you hold it in, it only becomes worse.
Witmer rejects the societal pressure to censure herself and in so doing expresses a sentiment with which anyone can relate. This level of candor is a trademark of Witmer’s work. Listening along you might feel complicit in this criminal pattern of thought, but most likely, if you’re human, your take away will be that you’ve felt a similar pang.
On “firefly,” which usurps “bb gurl” in earworm status, Witmer changes instrumentation, but the themes of her work trod the familiar path of self-loathing that makes listening so relatable.
The song, which is the first single from gobbinjr’s forthcoming vom night, opens with the classic, chimey arpeggios of the Suzuki Omnichord. It’s tuned down a semi-tone allowing Emma’s thin contralto to float above the instrument.
vom nite is filled with great opening lines: “No one wants to love someone whose never been loved before” (“vom nite”); “I just want to be perfect / Anything else less is shameful” (“perfect”); but it’s the opening line of “firefly” that hits home the hardest: “I feel creepy all the time / Because I like everybody more than they like me.”
Witmer doesn’t mince words. In the next couplet she sings, “I know your feelings and I make them rhyme” and then, as if she needs to emphasize this phrase, she repeats it again. If you’re like me, once was enough to make you agree.
In the next verse, Witmer details her desire for happiness, which she feels is being infringed upon by everyone in her life. The chorus is a thing of beauty. As the tinny, 8-bit drums kick in, a choir of multitracked oohs anoint your soul, making you monetarily forget that Witmer is considering leaving this planet for another.
For a downbeat song, “firefly” is remarkably replayable. The ascending chord progression distracts from Witmer’s desire to disappear, her declaration that she deserves a heart attack and her repeated wish for all humans to go extinct. But mostly, it is because of these moments of unbridled honesty that I find myself wondering which planet might be best suited for me and my endless well of feelings.