Isabel LaRosa Casts a Spell on Us in ‘YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU’
Is there a force on Earth more powerful than the suburban angst of a teenage girl? It’s a sentiment explored time and time again—in the Lisbon girls that fatally danced in the pages of The Virgin Suicides, in the loner whose rolled-back eyes became a staple of Hollywood cinema from the ‘80s and beyond, to the cluttered room of every teenage girl whose only solace was her Lana Del Rey vinyl adorning her walls. And in Isabel La Rosa’s latest EP, YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU, that teenage angst is wrapped in an intoxicating fog of conflicting religious imagery, love and heartbreak, and the search for meaning behind it all.
For those unfamiliar with LaRosa, you would be forgiven. After all, the 18-year-old artist who inked a deal with Slumbo Labs/RCA Records, is a relatively new, albeit meteoric force, with her late 2022 release “i’m yours” amassing over 220 million streams and earning her a supporting spot alongside fellow rising dark pop star Nessa Barrett. YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU then arrives as yet another landmark moment in this story that is still very much in its opening chapters.
There is a mysticism to the entirety of YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU, as if LaRosa has attained a strand of our hair and each lyric is an airy hex waiting to take control of our hearts under the next blood moon. It’s a marked juxtaposition to the religious undercurrent and ensuing guilt that runs through the veins of this project but one that plays well to the inherently ominous atmosphere the rising star is becoming an expert at crafting. Take “butterflies,” whose off-kilter etherealism makes the most of LaRosa’s undeniably enchanting voice but places it amongst a dimly lit forest at twilight—perfectly balancing otherworldly sonic beauty with the dangers that lurk just hidden from view.
“This EP follows the story of a girl growing up in a religious household,” shares LaRosa. “She goes through the motions of new love and heartbreak, intertwined with grief and guilt. It’s structured so that the beginning of the EP is the most innocent and lighthearted part, and by the end, it reaches the darkest part in her story.”
If “praying,” the EP’s closer is to be taken as the culmination of our hero’s story, then it is certainly a tale whose ending is accentuated by an exclamation mark. Under an array of unrelenting, industrial dance-inspired beats, we are greeted by strobes of flashing inspiration that would fit perfectly on a Crystal Castles record. It’s a grand finale that leaves us uncertain if we are in the midst of a breakdown, cathartic revelation, or stuck firmly in the middle.
Listen to YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU: