Ed Buys Houses // Sidney Gish

The album cover for Sidney Gish's Ed Buys Houses

There's the geniuses and then there's me, scrolling through clickbait endlessly.

Have you ever seen Lady Bird?


You gotta watch Lady Bird. Ed Buys Houses is a lot like Lady Bird. And Booksmart, now that I think about it. It’s the feeling of being alone in a small town with tons going on. There’s a lot of relief in the album. It sees a lot of clarity in a place where there’s rarely any, in that transition from childhood to adulthood.

Ed is a landlord. He buys houses. Plural! Who needs that as a job? Throughout the record, Gish points out absurdity in adulthood, such as in the plastic dinosaur-manufacturing career of a forgotten acquaintance or a lost understanding of high school math.

Gish is in awe of people who seamlessly make the leap into humanity, and this is reflected on No Dogs Allowed as much as it is on Ed Buys Houses. Particularly, she is in awe of the creators she describes on “Midnight Jingle,” and has a palpable frustration with herself for her own failure to create. So she creates, uncaring for the quality of the product that comes out. As a result, Ed Buys Houses, and Gish’s work as a whole, has a compelling amateurism to it that humanizes and inspires. What Gish wants to sing about on “Midnight Jingle” is the creative process itself, and she loves to stay up all night singing. There is something really inspiring about the “fuck it, go” attitude she has, and yet there is still a commendable vulnerability behind her work.

Her combined focus on minute trivia and broad sensation allows for an encompassing and expansive album that somehow sits at a mere half hour. It’s a digestible but delightful meal, jam packed with energy and flavor. The clicking of “It’s Afternoon, I’m Feeling Sick” really brings to life the relatability of lyrics about iPhones, self-aware angst, the writing process, and dieting.

A still from the movie Booksmart

Throughout Ed Buys Houses, Gish displays a wide array of real emotion. She’s frustrated, with herself and with others. On “Presumably Dead Arm,” she’s thoughtful, defiant, angry, forlorn. And the music itself bursts with joy, a perfect fall album.

And every song could be a single! All of them! Gish is consistently good with this. It’s astonishing. And yet, the album still flows like a good party. There is a nervous but energetic beginning, like pre-gaming with shots of something awful. There’s a persistent middle, flowing with its own stories and moods. You can almost hear her wandering around, looking for different people to talk to. I don’t want to project my anxieties onto her, of course, but I’m strongly reminded of the “awkward party” scene in movies like Lady Bird and Booksmart.

And then the party winds down into “Presumably Dead Arm,” filled with doubt and loathing. But the album refuses to end hear — the melancholic “What Do You Want From Me Tonight,” driven by a repetitive and simple guitar, is counseling, therapy. It’s a song for the walk home from a party, for sitting alone on the curb out front for a breath of fresh air. Gish is no longer trying to live up to her promises of being “Buckets of Fun.” Instead, “What Do You Want From Me Tonight” comes through as a statement of self-actualization, a realization that what she wants to be is attainable. And it’s through this realization that the song builds, with tambourine and rocking guitar riffs before one last moment of quiet self doubt.

And then, the song blows up. Clapping, snapping and backup vocals rain down on Gish as she makes the album’s statement: she doesn’t know where she’s going. But she’s going somewhere.

I hope she puts out more music.