Country : United States Label : Interscope / Music Soup Genres and styles : Shoegaze Year : 2024

Wisp – Pandora

· by Lyle Hendriks

Since her debut single “Your Face” just over a year ago, Natalie R. Lu, better known as Wisp, has skyrocketed into shoegaze stardom thanks largely to the novel phenomenon of TikTok. Inspired by the likes of Whirr and Cocteau Twins, the San Francisco native enjoyed virtually overnight success with “Your Face,” leading many screen-scrolling early adopters to wonder what she had to offer beyond the initial 30-second snippet. With Wisp’s debut EP Pandora, we’re beginning to see just what this young artist has in mind. Clocking in at just 23 minutes (and with two tracks being released beforehand), Pandora is a short but overwhelming ride, leaving me and nearly 2 million monthly listeners waiting for more. 

Cohesion on Pandora goes beyond the flow of the tracklist—every instrument feels like it’s been melted down, allowed to congeal, and then condensed into an impenetrable fog of face-melting yet sleepy guitar, explosive drums tactfully positioned at the back of the mix, and Lu’s breathy, intimate, Vallium vocals.

The self-proclaimed “Whirr whore for life” doesn’t hide her inspirations, but instead allows them to sit firmly at the foundation of each track. Whether it’s angsty yearnings of unrequited need (“Enough for you”) or the desperate yet hopeful reminiscings of an intimate morning with someone you don’t know like you used to (“Luna”) every song on Pandora feels like an entry in a stolen diary—a furtive and final peek into a swirling pit of love, rage, and chaos, evoking the age-old tale of the EP’s namesake.


Critics might spear Pandora as retreading too much ground, as too derivative from the shoegaze legends it so proudly tributes. But to me, this EP (and the success of Wisp in general) goes further than evaluating one single song or project. It’s a sign of a shift, of shoegaze and its emotional, sometimes hopeless themes growing as a wider trend in today’s listening culture. What that means for the kids listening is up to them, but one thing is for certain—this isn’t the last we will hear of Wisp.

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