‘Underdressed at the Symphony’ Unveils Faye Webster’s New Sound

Faye Webster’s fifth studio album “Underdressed at the Symphony” is a successful deviation from her usual sound and style.

Faye Webster’s fifth studio album “Underdressed at the Symphony,” released March 1, is a whiplash-inducing, disjointed experience — and it works. 

Pivoting from a conglomeration of jazz, bossanova and indie-pop, this new album lacks Webster’s signature stylistic coherence — in this new album, her emphasis on sonic diversity strips her musical range.

Webster’s saccharine lyrics and airy voice, while omnipresent in “Underdressed at the Symphony,” play a less pivotal role than in her last two albums. Playing with symphonic undertones, alt-rock guitar and autotune experimentation, Webster uses this album to expose other sides of her historically homogenous craft.

The opening track “Thinking About You” subtly fades in with a twangy guitar riff, a sonic effect embodying music coming out of a car passing by. As other instruments layer over the initial riff, Webster’s signature light and breezy sound — combined with her brilliantly simple lyrics — lures the listener in. 

“I’m asleep in the moment you’re holding my hand / But I want to remember I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” Webster sings to kick the album off. 

The second track “But Not Kiss” is the listener’s first dive into Webster’s new musical endeavors. The light electric guitar and soft vocal opening mimic her previous sound, creating a false sense of familiarity which is swiftly shattered by the crashing drums and pervasive piano that cut off the song’s first line. 

“Wanna Quit All The Time” pivots back to Webster’s traditional glossy, bossanova-inspired undertones as she masterfully combines gut-wrenchingly relatable lyrics over a soaring steel guitar that leads the song. 

“I used to be self-conscious / Well, really, I still am / I’m just better at figuring out why,” Webster sings. 

“Lego Ring” featuring Lil Yachty was one of the album’s first singles, introducing Webster’s listeners to the new, genre-bending sounds she’s exploring. Webster trades in her airy tone for a whinier chest voice, giving the track a moody atmosphere with lyrics reminiscent of a kid playing with Legos. 

As Webster and Yachty harmonize, the song shifts between punchy verses and a slow, offbeat chorus, keeping the listener engaged throughout the track’s entirety.

In track six, titled “I’m Feeling Good Today,” Webster forays into the world of overpowering autotune. Although the song’s minimalist guitar riffs are compelling, the autotune masking Webster’s naturally beautiful voice distract from her typically masterful composition. The track’s lyrics are some of the most lackluster in the album, teetering away from colloquially relatable and imagery-focused to reading like a humdrum series of mopey tweets. 

“I’m feeling good today / I ate before noon / I think that’s pretty good for me,” Webster sings. 

Webster’s minimalist lyrical brilliance returns with the following track “Lifetime,” a slow, emotional ballad focusing more on musical feeling than intense lyricism. The melody’s continuous rise and fall parallel the indescribable feeling Webster sings about. 

“No conversation / I get you verbatim / In a lifetime,” Webster sings. 

“He Loves Me Yeah!” combines the different musical elements Webster is working with into a cohesive, catchy and creative punk-pop number. Dynamic drumming and electric guitar are the driving forces behind this song, underscoring Webster’s lyrical joy at learning she is loved. 

“Ebay Purchase History” brings the mood back down to Webster’s leisurely jazz influence, as the soft drumming and layering guitar riffs almost demand the listener to rock back and forth to the captivating beat. 

In the album’s titular track, Webster explores the sense of alienation she feels after losing someone in her life. Infiltrating her soaring musical rhetoric with a brief, ironically triumphant-sounding symphonic interlude, Webster intentionally infuses isolative sonic elements to mimic her own lack of belonging. 

“I’m underdressed at the symphony / Crying to songs / That you put me on / Are you doing all the same things? / I doubt it,” Webster sings. 

The final track of the album “Tttttime” returns once again to Webster’s roots. Describing the nuanced agony of everyday life to the tune of light-hearted steel guitar and sparseness of piano, Webster closes “Underdressed at the Symphony” with percussive allusions to her original sound. 

“I get lost in a song / Take a walk, call my mom / Don’t go out anymore / In half an hour I’ll be bored / I got t-t-t-t-t-t-t-time,” Webster sings. 

Getting “lost in a song” seems to be Webster’s thesis for this album — especially where experimental songs are concerned. “Underdressed at the Symphony” takes Webster’s genre-bending talents to a new level, creating an album not brilliant for its cohesiveness but for its distinct tracks and sonic diversity. 
“Underdressed at the Symphony” is available on all major platforms.

Featured image by Bri Guntz / The Phoenix

Hailey Gates

Hailey Gates