Pronoun’s ‘I’ll Show You Stronger’ Is 2019’s Best Indie Sleeper Album

Shervin Lainez

When Alyse Vellturo was trying to come up with a name for her new musical project, she thought she hit upon the perfect moniker: Monachopsis. It’s defined as “the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place,” a sensation the 31-year-old Vellturo had experienced for years as a recording engineer and music business manager who lacked the confidence to make her own music, in spite of graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

Unfortunately for Vellturo, Monachopsis was totally unsuitable as a signifier for the music that she makes, which is hooky and glistening alt-rock that recalls the uplifting radio anthems of her youth, made by bands such as Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World. Tunes that are all shiny, ascending guitar lines and sinewy synths that cradle emotional vocals conveying some great revelation about a recent romantic heartbreak. “Monachopsis” doesn’t communicate that kind of cathartic, insinuating sound at all. What it evokes instead is “Tool cover band.”

A friend swiftly suggested that she go in a different direction.

“I told her she had 30 minutes to call me back with a better name,” Vellturo says. “She eventually called me back and said what about Pronoun? I typed it out in all lowercase and it just felt right.”

Released in May, Pronoun’s full-length debut I’ll Show You Stronger has been one of 2019’s great indie sleeper records. Aside from a lukewarm Pitchfork review, the album hasn’t generated much in the way of mainstream music coverage. (For what it’s worth, Uproxx has been hip to Pronoun from the beginning.) But on punk and emo blogs, Vellturo has been rightly celebrated as a burgeoning tunesmith with a real knack for creating rock songs that hit with the ease and gooey pleasure of great pop music.

As a singer, Vellturo’s husky voice and eccentric phrasing recalls Kate Bush, if the art-rock icon had been influenced by Bleed American. Tracks like “Run” and “Stay” build from conversational verses that touch on an ill-fated romantic relationship that is happily in Vellturo’s rearview, to huge choruses that blossom with the help of some truly gorgeous guitar tones. It is simply one of the most compulsively listenable records of the year,

Vellturo recently spoke about the making of the album, and how she found the confidence to make one of 2019’s best “indie emo bedroom rock that nobody asked for” albums.

It took you three years to make this record. Why so long? Are you a perfectionist?

I don’t know if I’m a perfectionist. More so I just was like, I can make this better. I know I can make this better. I was also doubting myself because I didn’t start making music until four years ago. So it was still kind of shocking to me that I was working on an album.