GAYLE’s New EP is “indieedgycool”
Issue 4, Volume 113
GAYLE is only 18 years old, but she is no newbie in the music industry. She was born in Texas, but grew up with one foot in Nashville, surrounding herself with music and eventually pursuing a career as a vocalist. Her major label debut single “abcdefu” (2022) brought her immense commercial success, topping charts around the world and gaining praise for its witty lyrics. GAYLE released her debut EP on March 18, “a study of the human experience volume one,” followed by its sequel, “a study of the human experience volume two” this October.
The EP sees GAYLE hone in on her craft, blending pop, alternative, and punk rock influences into a mesmerizing and messy sound that is uniquely her own. Even though “volume two” comes just six months after “volume one,” it possesses a new maturity and sense of self. GAYLE is more selective about toning down the instrumentals and letting her impressive vocals shine, while sonically rebelling through bold electric guitar riffs and punchy percussion. She muses on deeper matters, discussing toxic love, sexual abuse, and the loss of faith in humanity—feelings that much of Gen-Z can relate to. Brutally honest, relentlessly sarcastic, and lyrically brilliant, the EP proves GAYLE is no one-hit wonder and solidifies her as one of this generation’s most promising songwriters.
Despite the self-assuredness she projects in her music, GAYLE struggled for a long time to express herself without society’s restraints. On her website, she reveals that growing up, she was taught to conform to the expectations of what a “lady” should be, repressing her emotions and changing the way she dressed, spoke, and acted in order to be respected in a man’s world. Music gave GAYLE the creative freedom to express herself without judgment and escape expectations—it gave her a space to explore love, lust, and heartbreak, to curse when she was angry, and to reject traditional notions of femininity in favor of finding her style. In an interview with Flaunt Magazine, she explains that she uses music to cope with her anxiety: “It’s a bit of a control thing because I get to say exactly how I feel.” The beauty of her approach is that it leaves room for evolution; she does not restrict herself to one emotion, sound, or genre.
This appreciation for musical versatility led GAYLE to follow the work of many of her idols. She cites a wide variety of artists as influences, from legends like Aretha Franklin to alternative superstars like Lorde and Maggie Rogers. GAYLE’s diverse influences are evident from the very first track of the EP. “indieedgycool” channels Olivia Rodrigo’s “brutal” (2021), immediately establishing itself as a punk rock banger with a grimy electric guitar intro, effortless pop culture references, and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Similarly, “god has a sense of humor” shares qualities with Lorde’s more existential songs, like “Stoned at the Nail Salon” (2021). The EP serves as both a lyrical and sonic reflection of GAYLE’s many musical inspirations, developing a magical balance of tracks grounded by soft acoustic strumming and enthralling electric guitar solos. This variation allows GAYLE to demonstrate her vocal dexterity and masterful storytelling abilities as she explores a wide range of emotions.
The exploration of these feelings transcends the instrumentals and production of the tracks to form her masterful lyricism. GAYLE’s innate ability to craft clever lyrics is perhaps best showcased in the upbeat “fmk (with blackbear),” which boasts Justin Bieber as a co-writer. Describing the infuriating, uncontrollable passion of a hot and cold relationship, the song gives a subtle nod to Julia Michaels’s “All Your Exes” (2021) with raspy vocals and murderous fantasies. blackbear’s feature serves as a catchy bridge, and his smooth runs blend beautifully with the gritty texture of GAYLE’s voice. The song’s intro possesses a simple guitar backing, rooted in Nashville country but passed off as pop, while the bass and percussion in the chorus have more of an R&B-feel (a characteristic of blackbear’s music). The song is, simply put, fun, from its composition to the stop-motion music video.
GAYLE also tackles serious issues with the same authenticity and emotion. The fourth track on the EP, “15,” stands in stark contrast to the sarcastic jabs of “fmk.” The song is GAYLE’s reflection on being sexually exploited by a stranger when she was a teenager. The richness in her voice possesses both an unshakable strength and a heartbreaking innocence as she sings “Wasn’t over my ex, so I didn’t want sex / But you made that choice for the both of us.” She goes on to explain that no excuse— neither one too many drinks nor ignorance—justifies her abuse and the unpunished trauma of her stolen naïveté. The minimalist production and echoey acoustic guitar melodies are similar to those in “Your Power” (2021) by Billie Eilish, but the evocative storytelling and toughened tone are distinctly GAYLE’s.
“a study of the human experience volume two” is a sincere and scintillating account of teenage complexity. GAYLE takes listeners on a relatable emotional journey, pivoting from unbridled joy to sadness to frustration and, finally, to a sense of peace in the face of a daunting future. As GAYLE phrases it, “If you listen to my music and attach your own emotions or personal experiences to it… congratulations we just had soul sex.”