Deanna Petcoff – Stress

If not for the trope of ‘I want something/I can’t have something’ much of pop culture, or high art would cease to exist. Deanna Petcoff digs into this age old problem, but instead of adding to the tedium of the subject; weeping into a ballad, chewing a knuckle by a window, or begging another to return, she plants her hands on her hips, stands in a doorway and gets on with a dressing down of stuff. This is an artist¬†familiar the stress of stunted emotional progress, and the attempted ownership of affection. She sings about the phenomena in her track, concisely named ‘Stress’. Let’s talk about it for a bit.

Petcoff has a voice that issues confidence. It’s hard to imagine a world in which a woman of her strength has been subject to emotional indecision. But of course she has. She is a human being with a pulse. She is filled with paradox, contradiction, and beauty. It’s the cerebral strength that Petcoff asserts over her rampant affections that makes her so interesting, so believable, and so compelling as a narrator.

Lyrically, Deanna Petcoff addresses the games, the sub-games, and the dynamic of distrust, desire and wrong-love. “I’m not going to put you to the test / I could walk around your town for weeks, but I feel like you’d never notice me”.¬†However, this isn’t an excursion through a weak and limping aspect of the female psyche. Instead, the artist draws a line in the sand and steps over it. Away from the bullshit. This is the best of the feminine.

Instrumentally things are held to a simplicity that’s refreshing. Embellishments like the occasional stab across a rhythm guitar bring dynamic, and the whole track is set on ‘constant swell’. There’s enough going on to snare attention in the vocal track, and so the artist refuses to overcook the instrumental passages. The kind of poetry here is the kind of poetry we’d hear from Glenn Tilbrook, in his ‘Up the Junction’ period. There’s more than an easy pop hook, but the pop hook is fucking strong.

For parents, or potential parents out there, Deanna Petcoff comes like a role model to modern girls. She knows to not cut herself out from experiencing romantic pain. She remains open and optimistic to interpersonal exchange, but she has the confidence, and self-worth required to pull herself back from over-compromise. There’s no faux-hope of avoiding heartbreak, but there is the real talk of dealing with inevitable pain with soul and self-reliance. It’s good stuff.

The weight of the subject means Petcoff relies on a deadpan balance. Her awareness of ‘this tradition’ acts like a gauge of self-seriousness. Her subject is heavy, so she carries herself lightly. The visual accompaniment is an endless thread of pleasing moments. Lizards. Proper-good dance choreography, and a sideways smile that signals ‘Yes. You get it’. Deanna Petcoff is serious fun, and we need more of her.


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