Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.
If you merely look at the surface of “Strawberry” by Emily Reo, you have a delicious pop track, filled with zippy eight-bit arpeggios and catchy “na na nas.” It sounds like popsicles in summer time, star-gazing with your best friend, floating in the pool on a hot day. Listening carefully to the lyrics, though, you can tell this is an artist who knows how to package very visceral human experiences—in this case, misogyny—into a song that’ll be stuck in your head for days. Reo’s a talented musician, experimenting with the digital and organic sides of pop ever since the release of her home-recorded 2009 record Minha Gatinha. Now she’s preparing to release her forthcoming album Only You Can See It on April 12 via Carpark Records, and if this lead single is any indication, we’re in for a treat.
“Strawberry” recounts examples of sexism that women experience so regularly, it’s easy to brush them off sometimes. “Over my headphones / I hear you telling me to smile,” she sings. But it’s nothing small, it’s not an incident to be ignored, Reo says, as she follows up with, “And then you reach for me / Bit in the ocean bleeding.”
The song’s duality reads a couple of different ways, sweet and sour like a strawberry. From one perspective, the uplifting sonic palette of the song almost feels like a war cry. In the face of these shitty men talking over and belittling her, Reo remains positive as ever. There’s something strangely empowering about the playground-like chants at the end, calling for more men to get a PhD in R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
On the other hand, the upbeat tone of the song could be seen as the mask that many women wear every day, a musical version of the put-on smile we use to glance blows from passing strangers. You’re afraid what will happen if the smile slips and what retaliation it may incur, so you keep the corners of your mouth pointed up in spite of it all. “Strawberry” almost seems like another version of Robyn’s happy-sad pop, but this time it’s happy-angry (or happy-frustrated, happy-scared, happy-whatever way acts of toxic masculinity make women feel).
Besides the feminist lyrics, the track benefits from tight production. Reo recorded the album in various studios, apartments and homes around New York, including with Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez at Gravesend Recordings (Gravesend have also worked with Palehound, Frankie Cosmos and Speedy Ortiz, to name a few).
Listen to “Strawberry” below and find the details of Reo’s forthcoming album further down. You can preorder Only You Can See It here.
Only You Can See It Tracklist:
10. In Theaters
Only You Can See It Album Art: