When an album is truly special, you know right away. On a first listen, you might not be able to pinpoint exactly why, but you immediately know that it is. After a few re-listens, the pieces start to click – it’s because the songwriting clearly builds on each musician’s strengths. It’s because everyone is given space to add their own personal flourishes. It’s because the chemistry is palpable and you know that this group of people are the only ones who could ever make this album.
Though the roster shifts over the course of the EP, it never feels like anyone else is a guest star. Opener “moonlight in the mirror” feels made for InkyFirefly’s soft and earnest vocals while Wapddi’s guitar solo drifts in naturally. Biddy Fox’s wry delivery on “deacon blues 2: ‘THE CRIMSON TIDE’” is perfect for her, while the pop-punk chiptune styling of “ILY RAMONA!!” impeccably complements its vocalist.
One of the best tracks is “Untitled,” where a discordant piano backs up painfully clear confessions sung by the “guest” Jeff Burgess. The lyrics themselves are equal parts Cecily’s personal experiences and Burgess’s, with Burgess clearly singing from Cecily’s perspective before shifting into a vulnerable spoken word section that directly references their own past musical projects. In both perspectives, the lyrics lay out suicidal ideation, worries about being buried as the wrong gender, and anxieties about how their art will be perceived after they’re gone.
This song exemplifies what I like best about MIDI Bunny. Not only does “Untitled” showcase how well the songwriting is shaped to each collaborator’s talents, but it reinforces the feeling of oneness and solidarity present in their songs. There’s something indescribably special about the way all the features can take Cecily’s compositions and effortlessly shape them to fit in with their own personal story – and that’s because queer pains, aspirations, and joys are so similar. Yes, we’re all our own people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t share a whole lot of core emotions, experiences, and struggles.
MIDI Bunny is a collective coming of age, a collective overcoming of queer trauma. As Biddy Fox puts it in the liner notes, “Solidarity is an important virtue among queer people, but especially among transgender people…we have no one else but each other.” And as cliche as it might sound, MIDI Bunny really does make it feel like someone will always be there for you.
Though technically a bonus track, “Communication” showcases that theme of unity best. With at least fourteen different vocalists jeering the words, “Talk to me, talk to me / communicate, communicate,” any lingering feelings of loneliness temporarily dissipates. You’re enveloped in its shroud of love.
To really boil it down to the bare essentials, the note I scribbled down on my initial listen was just: “damn my heart is lowkey soaring rn.”
It’s an endlessly endearing album, from the ways it wears its influences on its sleeve (literally – the album cover is adorned with Weezer and My Little Pony stickers) to its unabashed displays of love for both music and for each other. It’s so obvious that there was a lot of trust between each artist on each collaboration.
Even those stickers on the cover contributes to this larger sense of creative community that MIDI Bunny is honoring. Think of all the little things that had to have happened in order to make MIDI Bunny possible – without the influence of Jeff Rosenstock, would this have a totally different sound? If all these featured artists never met Cecily Renns or Biddy Fox, would a track like “Communication” even be able to exist? MIDI Bunny leaves you thinking about the butterfly effect of art itself, and it tells you: make that art, share yourself, and watch how it can transform the world in tiny rippling waves.
Once you dig into the back catalog of Cecily and Biddy, it’s not surprising that they were able to create this grand feeling of community with MIDI Bunny. After all, these are musicians who coordinated the album (Para)-Social Club, a compilation of songs from musicians who all met up in Cecily’s Discord server. That album and the existence of MIDI Bunny itself are testaments to the creative power of the online queer community.
It’s beautiful to know that you can find someone who gels with you creatively all the way on the other side of the world (Biddy Fox is from New Jersey while Cecily is in South Korea). It’s beautiful to know that even if you’re a trans kid in an isolated rural town, you can find a whole cadre of musicians making music that speaks directly to you. And it’s beautiful to know that I can stumble upon beautiful music like this just by browsing Twitter or sifting through random Bandcamp releases.
Who knows, maybe this album will change the way I approach art in some small way. Maybe that will carry over to the articles I write, and maybe someone will read it and be pushed to DM another musician and create their first album together. And so the chain will go on, a piece of ourselves getting passed over to artists we may never meet and influencing art in ways we may never even know, all sparked by the existence of something special like MIDI Bunny.