Curtis Waters’s sophomore album Pity Party will get you just as in your feelings, as the title suggests. On the record, Waters flips between addressing his own emotional growing pains directly and taking on a persona of cold detachment. The result is a journey through palpable and familiar angst, a story of someone vaguely hoping for a better future while trying to understand how to deal with the realities of the present.

Waters, a 20-year-old Nepali-Canadian artist, shows off his range as a musician. The production and style is reminiscent of other bedroom-pop albums from recent years, contributing a rawness to the adolescent feelings Waters tackles. The album starts with a slow and thoughtful track, “Shoe Laces,” that outlines a set of relatable and honest anxieties about a nebulous future. This quickly transitions into a more upbeat single, “Freckles,” a celebration of young love.

“You lean on me when you’re feeling alone and need some company,” the song opens. “You call on me, lay on your lap I sleep so comfortably.”

Even this track which speaks to tenderness and affection contains a hint of the uneasiness the entire album. In this case, it’s the fear that these feelings are fleeting.

“Usually I don’t feel alright,” Waters sings on the bridge.

Waters doesn’t shy away from the ugliest sides of his coming of age story.

The strongest songs on the album come in the middle: “The Feelings Tend to Stay the Same” followed by “Better.” The pairing of these songs track damage done to a relationship and the ensuing feelings of self-hatred, remorse, and resolve to improve. In terms of structure, the two tracks sound like halves of a larger whole. The contrasting lyrics (“I’m no good for no one / I’ll leave before I tear you” on “The Feelings Tend to Stay the Same” turning to “I wanna be someone new / I wanna be someone different / I wanna be there for you” on “Better) give life to the intense ups and downs Waters is navigating.

Waters doesn’t shy away from the ugliest sides of his coming of age story. On songs like “6pills,” “Do Not Disturb,” and “Lobby Boy,” he raps and sings candidly about drug use and toxic relationships. On “Pity Party,” he tells the story of a suicide attempt, discussing the guilt that is at the core of his self-doubt.

The album closes with a meditation on these back and forth feelings. A more melodic track, accompanied by a simple guitar riff, “Subaru” sums up Waters’s internal battles.

“I ain’t perfect / I don’t know / I’m a burden / I’m a burden / No I’m not,” he argues with himself. It is an argument left, for now, unresolved.

Pity Party is out now on all streaming platforms.

Photo by Damien Rodriguez