Perception is the difference between feeling safe and, actually, being secure. Everything around you may appear to be perfectly fine, but, inside, you’re on-guard against a danger that has yet to materialize. German pop-rock artist katie drives turns her insecurities into an introspective romp on her new EP, “Safe And Sad.” Embracing the natural fact that not everything will be a bed of roses, Drives unleashes a thorny set of barbs that leave a potent, emotional sting.
Straight out of the box, “Anywhere But Here” starts with an adrenaline spiking, alt-rock sprint. It’s a jolting jam centered around feelings of being trapped somewhere you no longer want to be. As it turns out, the safety of routine can be as dangerous as instability. Yearning to break free and spread her wings, drives does not hold back as exemplified by her harried vocals.
“Ghosts” delves into the psyche of being haunted by someone who abruptly vanishes from your life. It’s a boppy, pop-punk style of break-up song for the digital age in which interpersonal communication can become all too fleeting. Also, it imagines the designated ‘ghost’ is taunting them from beyond the relationship’s grave. Spooky and, yet, entirely relatable, it isn’t interested as much in self-pity as it is in exorcising the demons of past loves.
“Jump Or Run” embodies both of these action words. In addition to the anxious, heart skipping beat, it echoes the springy rhythmic pattern of techno, a scene that’s still hopping in Berlin. Intertwined with an alt-rock angst, this track is very fleet of foot as it flees from life itself. Faced with having to “run for your life,” it is not only about self-preservation, but also needing to escape from being overwhelmed by external pressure. Altogether, it runs a marathon of the mind and finishes with a walloping amount of mental fatigue.
Dovetailing off of pure exhaustion, the next track proves that, sometimes, enough really is enough. “Underestimate Me” is a direct, empowering anthem in which drives sets her sights on her doubters and fires some double birds their way. Supremely volatile, this track shines brightest during each of its thrashing, head banging choral jams. To “underestimate” Drives’ ability to bring the noise would be doing so at your own peril.
“Next To You” dives into the deep end of self-loathing that’s born out of living in the era of the social influencer. It’s an emo-pop track with a splash of a frenetic EDM style that beckons drives to dance away her woes as she’s crowned “the prom queen of her pity party.” Beneath these exuberant beats, this song tells a melancholy tale of distorted self-image. It’s about tiring out your self-esteem while chasing the myth of perfection. In the end, this is a dazzling, danceable track that feeds off insecurity.
For a finale, Drives exits on a macabre note with the alt-rock, bluesy style of “Death Dreams.” It is a very noirish, nightmare fuel type of atmosphere that unravels the fraying ends of sanity. Besieged by murderous night terrors, this track is the culmination of living in fear during her waking hours. drives caps off this collection with a fatalistic expression of how these anxieties can manifest in unexpected ways.
“Safe And Sad” is the unfettered release of previously bottled up emotion, resulting in an eruption of alt-pop rock hysteria. From start to finish, katie drives leaves nothing up to illusion, projecting a visceral intensity. It’s a treasure trove of angsty rock that proves that there is no rest for the weary.
Written by Travis Boyer
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