Loud, Abrasive, and Peaceful: Black Dresses Are Back


Zachary Liss, Writer

Black Dresses are a Canadian noise pop duo consisting of members Ada Rook (a.k.a. Crisis Sigil and Fallow), and Devi McCallion (a.k.a. Girls Rituals, Anarchy99, Mom, and many more). They formed in late 2017, when McCallion put out a request on Twitter for people to send her beats. Rook and McCallion started talking, and eventually they got together to release their debut album “WASTEISOLATION,” in 2018. They released three more albums together, until, on May 26, 2020, they announced that they would not be making music together anymore via Twitter. However, they released two more albums after this. One being “Forever In Your Heart,” and their most recent album being “Forget Your Own Face.”

The duo’s style is generally very loud and hard hitting while having moments of solace. Black Dresses generally explore topics of how horrid and dark the world is while also showing sparks of life in the end. It’s hard to draw comparisons between them and other artists because of how many genres they explore. Together, they draw from genres such as experimental, industrial noise-pop, and even lo-fi. Their newest album, “Forget Your Own Face,” is possibly their most abrasive and intense, despite the short run time. It starts off with the track “u_u2” which is harsh and in your face, with self-loathing lyrics to accompany it. Some of the lyrics are like a diss track of sorts towards McCallion, with the line “wish you were me man, I wish you weren’t me.” 

The duo, Black Dresses, draws from a number of music genres including experimental, industrial noise-pop, and lo-fi. Image from Flickr.

The album then goes onto the song “Let’s Be,” which is another great song with a lot of different beat transitions and vocal melodies. In addition, even this early on in the album, you can tell how in sync Rook and McCallion are with each other. In such a small amount of time they are able to exchange ideas fluidly and make their messages compact. The song ends with a good conclusion, with McCallion talking about chasing your dreams even if it might seem stupid. “Let’s Be” then transitions into the song “earth worm,” which is also filled with hard hitting and self-loathing lyrics. Rook asks, “The place you dreamed you would be? Was it ever really there at all?” showing how she wonders if it was all worth it. 

The next three songs express how many genres they reach into and show how dynamic their sound is, starting with the track “NO NORMAL.” “NO NORMAL” is a song about wanting to live a normal life, but also accepting that you might never have one. Black Dresses then transition into the song “doomspiral,” which feels more lo-fi, a genre that uses low quality equipment to make audible imperfections. Rook opens this song by acknowledging that there are glimmers of hope and opportunities in the world, but how she steps aside and misses them. It goes on by wondering if everything is worth it, and hoping to be okay in the end. Unfortunately, “doomspiral” quickly transitions into “MONEY MAKES YOU STUPID,” which is loud, abrasive, and in your face. McCallion and Rook both have verses where they are just screaming and yelling. It’s almost painful to listen to, and it ends with them saying that they cause their own problems. 

“Forget Your Own Face” is a bold, fresh, and angry album, so if you’re interested you can stream it on Spotify now.

“GAY UGLY AND HARD TO UNDERSTAND,” is a lot of externalizing with some interesting lyrics on how they see their fans: “You want my suffering? Why do you want it so bad?… I want softness, I want the gentleness that only you were offered, I want a peaceful life,” Rook screams, putting into question if the person listening is only there to see them suffer. The closer, “nightwish,” ends the album on a generally peaceful note, and the duo come to terms with the things that they have witnessed, with the final lyric being “Let’s just still try to have fun.”

“Forget Your Own Face” sees Black Dresses going through an episode filled with anger, rage, and depression. There are so many mood and beat switches that it can be hard to keep up with. Their sound is bold and daring, but it is not easy to listen to. However, I would definitely recommend that people check it out if you’re looking for something new, fresh, and interesting. In the end, Rook and McCallion show how in sync they are with each other, and I hope to see even more from them in the future.