Editors’ Notes Toronto alt-pop singer Lauren Isenberg—aka renforshort—isn’t one to mince words. Having made the leap from YouTube cover-song phenom to Geffen Records signee before her 18th birthday, renforshort approaches her debut release as the ultimate write-what-you-know exercise. teenage angst offers exactly what it says on the label: seven disarmingly candid, unapologetically profane missives broadcast straight from the outcast table at the back of the high school cafeteria. “I think every teenager is angsty, it's just something that comes along with it,” she tells Apple Music. “This EP is supposed to be like a diary of angst and frustration and what I'm actually thinking all the time.” But if the record's topical terrain (anxiety, body image, and the hot-messiness of teen romance in the online age) aligns her with fellow misfit laureates like Billie Eilish and Lorde, renforshort also frequently consults her parents’ record collection for spiritual guidance, bolstering her trap-infused, finger-snapping productions with the power-chord crunch of ’90s faves like Nirvana and Weezer (not to mention the occasional Lou Reed quote). “I think a lot of people my age know ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and are satisfied with that,” she says. “But I grew up listening to Nirvana and always thought they were so angsty and cool. It’s that therapeutic I-don’t-give-a-f**k vibe.” Here, renforshort gives us the track-by-track lowdown on her EP’s bold fusion of modern-pop bops and alt-rock attitude.

idc
“This is more of an in-character song. I wrote it based on teenage ‘relationships’—and I say that with air quotes because a lot of the time they're not relationships, it's more just an exchange of goods and services, and people aren't surprised when they're mistreated in a relationship in grade 10. So it's a song about stepping up, because a lot of teenagers don't do that. It's something they’re scared of, because a lot of the time they haven't been in relationships, and they don't know what they’re doing. You have to understand your worth and who you are. So it's kind of like an epiphany song.”

new way
“I always say it's easier for me to write sad songs. I watch a lot of coming-of-age films and I like listening to sad music, because I feel like you can get way more into your emotions and you can make yourself feel sad easier than you can make yourself feel happy. No one wants to really feel like s**t, but when you feel really good, you start to question it, because it doesn't feel right and it's kind of boring to you. And you usually don't know how to conduct yourself in a relationship that's going perfectly. So in writing the lyrics to this song, I wanted a weird juxtaposition with the sound of the song.”

i drive me mad
“I was in the studio and I got a really worrying phone call and I just freaked out and had a really bad panic attack. We had this producer and writer fly in from New York, and it was my last day in the studio, and I was like, 'I can't not write a song.' And we were like, ‘Let's write a song about this panic attack you just had, because it's so fresh.’ The whole track has the feeling of an anxiety attack: In the pre-chorus, it starts speeding up and your heart rate is speeding up as well, and then in the chorus, everything just crashes. And with the lyrics, I was just like, ‘What am I feeling right now? I feel like I'm hyperventilating.’ It was super easy to write, because it was something that was so fresh—I was still freaking out when I was writing the song. That was when I started feeling more comfortable writing about my personal experiences of mental health.”

bummer
“This is a song about body image, and how no one's ever going to be happy with how they look. This was a very easy one to write, because it’s been a very big factor in my life. That one also has a juxtaposition—it sounds like it's a happy pop kind of moment, but the lyrics are so sad. 'There are times I wish I was somebody else pretending I'm okay/But s**t, I'm hating myself'—that's so dark! But I think that making it kind of more poppy makes it less upsetting and more relatable.”

museum
“I have this nice familiarity with going to the AGO [Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario]. My dad used to take us every weekend. I feel very comfortable and happy when I'm there. So this song is like my ode to my perfect day...with a little Lou Reed insert in there.”

luv is stooopid
“This song is like the epitome of my angst on this EP, right down to the way the track is spelled. It's funny because people think they know what it is to be in love, but in some instances, what people assume is pretty stupid. It's like, ‘I don't understand why you want this to go so fast. I just want to have, like, a fling with you. I don't want this to turn into a whole serious thing, because I don't want it to get messed up—because love is stupid!’”

tastefully depressed
“I wrote this song in like 20 minutes, quite a while ago, when I was writing more acoustic folky songs. I needed this song to be perfect. It took so long for us to get the production to the point where we all felt satisfied, so this song went through so many revisions. But I love the lyrical content of the song, because it's something that I really can relate to: the fear of growing up and getting older, and what happens to people and what happens to you.”

SONG
idc
1
2:33
 
new way
2
3:22
 
i drive me mad
3
2:57
 
bummer
4
3:20
 
museum
5
2:37
 
luv is stooopid
6
2:47
 
tastefully depressed
7
3:05