‘Story’s Start or End,’ SAFIA’s eagerly anticipated sophomore album was as melodic and reflective and thought-provoking as I hoped it would be. But what really stands out for me is that every time I listen to it, I hear the perspective of a group of pals who grew up together – not newly crowned superstars. Like everyone else, they spend too much time in their past and get sad about letting people go. They’re afraid of the future, and they create rich, symphonic landscapes to make exploring the unknown less intimidating. Every baseline and every wacky straw slurp, drum bang, and animal noise incorporated lets you feel the horror and exhilaration that is navigating transition. We’re not dealing with any riveting subject matter – and that’s exactly why we love SAFIA in the first place.
SAFIA’s true superpower here is empathy – give them your not-so-pretty thoughts, and they’ll give you a hypnotic beat that reminds you you’re more than just an isolated feeling. We’re as layered as ‘Maybe You’ll Love Again’ and as free as ‘Vagabonds,’ and we dance our hearts out and pump our fists and laugh happy tears, even when we feel like garbage, because there’s a SAFIA track playing that reminds us we deserve to. When I listen to SAFIA, it’s just me, in my own alternate universe, imagining nobody but myself. There was a point in my life where that might have bothered me – but then I listen to a track like ‘Better Off Alone,’ and even if it guts me, I always come out more than okay. In ‘Resolution,’ I’m the star of the movie, walking away from the wreckage in the final scene, and I absolutely own it. I am so thankful for music that pulls that confident person out of me when I lose her.
I keep mulling over this line in ‘Ivory Lullaby’ – “Tell me bout the story, and tell me when it ends? / Baby, tell me when it all makes sense?” Logically, I know life doesn’t – and it never will. But ‘Story’s Start or End’ makes me feel a little less alone in the uphill battle that is figuring out what the hell is happening like, 80% of the time. When I’m lost in my head, songs like ‘White Lies’ pull me back, but they don’t bring me to reality – they bring me to a universe where being a little lost and a little shaken isn’t the worst thing in the world. It sounds silly, but here I am, dancing in ‘Starlight’ and chasing ‘Cellophane Rainbows,’ feeling good even when I feel uncertain. Giving people that reassurance and hope means a hell of a lot more than whatever great truth you could reveal about the world.
There is so much I want to say about this album – but like SAFIA, I don’t always have to share everything just yet. And as I cross between the world SAFIA has created in swirling, pulsing melodies back to a world where I have to face my emotions, I’m much more content with how I’ve grown and all the growing there’s left to do. As the final track of the album says, it’s just good to be alive.
Fans can catch SAFIA on their ‘Story’s Start or End’ tour across Australia and New Zealand alongside BOO SEEKA and Eilish Gilligan on the below dates – click here for tickets.