Liz Miele opens Mind Over Melee by announcing she just got back from shooting her first commercial. Before the audience has time to respond, she quickly adds: “Thank you so much.” It earned the first laugh from the crowd and from me. A lot of the album is like that, braggy in a way that’s wry enough to be charming—like Miele deciding she’ll learn to love herself, but only because she can’t afford $400 eyelash extensions.
If this album is your introduction to Liz Miele outside of her viral feminist sex positions joke, as it was mine, you’ll probably know if it’s your thing by the end of the first few minutes. She’s brutally honest and quick to point out hypocritical behavior in herself and others. Her unflinching look at her own issues—like anxiety and a family history of suicide—leads weight to her judgment of others. She’s able to go dark as easily as she complains about Facebook.
Miele started performing stand up at sixteen years old, and her experience comes across in how well-developed her observational humor is. She doesn’t just hate a couple she sees sharing an infinity scarf; she wants to know what their couples therapy sessions are like. She’s proud of being 100% Italian, but willing to acknowledge it also means that even though her parents aren’t cousins, “they might as well be.” She’s not exactly the first comic to point out the universal truths that couples are too much, anxiety sucks, and museums are boring, but more often than not Miele makes those familiar frustrations her own.
Parts of the album lag, such as an exploration of prejudices she’s developed from living in New York City that are so specific I’m shocked they work out of state, let alone overseas (the album was recorded in London). When her pacing loses momentum, the energy is nonetheless consistent. There are two long tracks and then a fair bit of hopping around on topics, so it would be easy to listen to this album on shuffle without losing much.
Near the end of the album Miele jokes about having grown so close with her therapist they switched roles: “I gave [my therapist] a hug and I told her she was making great progress.” That’s a bit how I felt after finishing the album—that even though she’s the one who’s been talking for the last hour, I’d managed to get a lot of frustrations off my chest too. It felt like a long conversation with a friend about dealing with anxiety, cats and shitty dudes. Overall, it was a conversation worth the investment.
Mind Over Melee is available on iTunes.
Sara Ghaleb is a Los Angeles-based writer and comedian. She takes pop culture much too seriously. You can see her sketch team The Burbs perform at The Nerdist School Stage. Follow her at @saraghaleb;.