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Nicholas Krgovich - “Ouch” Music Album Reviews

The Vancouver singer-songwriter lays everything bare on his latest record.

“You learn that so much of the fear and anxiety that exists about letting people know what’s going on with you is so much your own thing,” Nicholas Krgovich said in a recent interview with Discorder magazine, a realization borne of a “newfound interest in clarity and transparency.” From this he has derived a lesson: “No one cares, basically.” This well-fuck-it attitude helps account for Krogvich’s extraordinary candor. On his latest album “Ouch”, the Vancouver singer-songwriter lays everything bare, divulging private pains without a shadow of reserve or self-consciousness.

“Ouch” was a provoked by a breakup—Krgovich’s first, despite being 35 at the time of the album’s writing. Over the course of 12 grief-stricken, heavy-hearted songs, he relays the anguish of being left by a man he loved a great deal. The aftermath seethes with dejection and despondency, torments that seem in the moment permanent, with no prospect of relief. “I wake up and I hate this room/And I hate this coffee/And I hate this food,” he laments with grim conviction on “Goofy,” coming off as almost childishly inconsolable. “It’s hard to imagine a time when I won’t at least feel a shade this way.” At no point on “Ouch” does this hurt ease up.

The juvenile quality of Krgovich’s heartache, miserable in the most self-pitying way, is not a shortcoming. Instead, it captures truthfully the experience of being dumped—in all its callow, hair-pulling, feet-stomping injustice. “No amount of Jonathan Richman, Hafiz and Alain de Botton is stopping me/From screaming ‘fuck you’ into the air,” Krgovich croons blithely on “Spa.” “No amount of going out and spending time with friends pretending that you don’t exist/Is doing anything.” It hardly flatters Krgovich to sound this sullen and resentful. Yet he never downplays the pettiness he’s feeling, for the sake of tact or dignity, instead embracing the part of the bitterly jilted.

Risking embarrassment in this way is a brave gambit, and it works on “Ouch” because Krgovich fully commits to the truth, or at least his side of it. When he confides the particulars of the relationship and its strange, uneven dynamics on “Guilt,” his reflections feel like the product of someone unflinchingly honest with his own weaknesses. “I spent all my 20s/Atrophied, barely alive,” he sings. “Thought that might even the playing field/A nice thought, but a lie.” Krgovich is honest enough about his anger to direct rancor at his ex but he is smart—and given the circumstances, gallant—enough to share the blame.

Even at his most overtly forlorn Krgovich keeps things jaunty: “Everything’s fine I guess/But I wish I were dead,” he sings on “Hinoki,” but the tone is distinctly sunny, his delicate voice awash in twangy acoustic guitar and some ethereal backing “oohs” and “ahhs.” An occasional saxophone solo whisks “Ouch” into rosy yacht rock territory, or perhaps into the realm of Destroyer’s Kaputt, with which this album shares an affinity for a retro smooth-jazz and soft-rock aesthetic. And on a half-dozen tracks he makes use of analog drum loops courtesy of Owen Ashworth, whose project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone practically trademarked this kind of intimate-ebullient melancholy.

In a kind of introductory essay to the album published on his Bandcamp page, Krgovich writes effusively about a “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast featuring Lorde. “She had just put out a breakup album and said something like she didn’t write about the specifics of the relationship because she didn’t want to build a totem to this one particular person,” Krgovich explains. “What I had just made with “Ouch” was all specificity.” It’s an instructive comparison. While Melodrama has the universal scope of not just a breakup but the breakup, about all breakups, “Ouch” is utterly, unapologetically about Krgovich’s own, an album of unvarnished particulars and graphic details. That doesn’t make “Ouch” less relatable. It has the opposite effect. Its specificity is what makes it ring true.

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