Photo by Marta Olive
On her debut album, ~ (pronounced Tilde), Portuguese alternative folk-rock artist Marinho boldly breaks down that most universally-accepted of virtues: perseverance. From the “Intro,” her mantra–a self-reassurance that a difficult climb pays off in the view from the mountain peak–swells with hope in its spacey guitar buildup. By the “Outro,” where she sighs the same words in poignant, acoustic fashion, it’s replaced by a note of sad irony.
That kind of dualism dominates her outlook throughout the record, and as she told Audiofemme in a recent interview, she can trace it back to her complicated relationship with her father, who was a source of joy as well as emotional destruction in her childhood. “I quickly learned to live with dichotomy,” she said. “I still carry that with me. The capacity to feel and live between opposites.”
The album’s last full song, “Freckles,” deals most directly with that specific dichotomy, taking a matter-of-fact look at each of her parents over an easygoing beat. It’s also home to the line that gives the album its title, as Marinho sings “Life is like a tilde sign / with ups and downs, not a straight line.”
Maybe there is no perfect peak to look down from, where all your struggles, physical or emotional, will pay off; in someone else’s songs, that could feel pretty bleak, but on tracks like “Window Pain,” Marinho finds some brightness and clever wordplay even in the light that glints off a piece of shattered glass.
Whether it’s a glass half full or half empty is sort of up to you, the listener. Do you vibe with the brooding tremolo guitar on “Ghost Notes” or the brighter, bouncier bass line? Between ~’s stark beginning and ending, Marinho wisely colors in shades of grey, as on “I Give Up and It’s Ok.” Here, success and failure aren’t the only options, and it comes as a palpable relief as the drums start to pick up speed and the keys strike a triumphant pose. You don’t have to stress over the summit after all, they say; you’re better off taking care of yourself where you are, no matter the sunk-cost.
Gather a few more epiphanies like that and there you have ~. It’s a soothing voice of solidarity wherever you are in that short squiggle between life and death, with impressive depth of sound and thought.