Nicole Dollanganger: Natural Born Losers

Grimes protégée spins a beguiling alt-rock vision

Credit: Susie Bell

"I shot an angel with Father's rifle/I should've let it free, but I let it bleed/And made it into taxidermy," Canadian artist Nicole Dollanganger sings. First impressions are hard to shake: From that opening line onward, she sets a course of Flannery O'Connor-style meditations on violence, small-town paranoia and strained love. "I used to be a figure skater, cutting my leg with the blade," she says on "American Tradition," a mournful highlight that finds her looking longingly across an ice rink, attempting to piece together the flaws in a relationship. Dollanganger's often morbid lyrics are paired with light alt-rock distortion and a singing style that barely rises above a whisper, never calling attention to her lyrics no matter how unsettling they become.

Dollanganger is the first artist to release music through Grimes' appropriately named new label Eerie Organization, and she has a striking confidence in her voice that calls to mind her fellow Canadian patron's work. Even Dollanganger's most affectionate songs have an unshakeable sense of isolation (see the twisted alt-pop dream "You're So Cool"). Dollanganger began as a bedroom-recording artist, but Natural Born Losers shows that her music is ready to escape those wallpapered confines.