Fig, an art-pop musician who returned to Pittsburgh last year after some time spent in Cleveland, recently released a dreamy, rippling album called Soft Animal.
Fig describes their music as something that “feels like listening to queer pop in a mid century cathedral,” and the sentiment rings true on Soft Animal, a work in which remnants of suffering and trauma function as nuclei for swirling meditations whose distilled purity make them feel like quiet prayers. “Body Study I” begins with the hushed mantra, “Skin, lips, teeth, hands,” the kind of grounding check-in that could snap you out of a panic attack. Those four repeated words underpin the entire track, which, aside from some sparse percussion and wonky bass, is constructed mostly from layered vocals. Fig, their voice ascending to choir-like heights, explores the ways in which the physical form can be subtly altered (diet, posture, stretching, skin treatments, caffeine), landing on the refrain, “I’ve forgotten my own body,” which poignantly captures the numbing sensation of being stuck in one’s own anxiety-ridden head. The track ends with a lush, sweeping coda that sees fig mourn, “I don’t know how to be with myself/I don’t know how to want me.” This realization, though born from a wound, feels less like a lament than it does a starting point for healing.