Olivia O’Brien is no stranger to heartbreak pop – just one look at her flourishing discography reveals the 20 year old’s familiarity with penning infectiously catchy songs marked by the relatable angst that all young romance is home to. Those unfamiliar with O’Brien’s recent work will likely recognize these doleful vocals from her breakthrough collaboration with gnash in 2016, “i hate u, i love u”. With The Results of My Poor Judgement, O’Brien retains that earnest emotionality, yet with greater verve and a more mature outlook on love and heartbreak. According to O’Brien, this “micromixtape” is a set of three sonically consistent songs that should elicit the same emotion, which she commits to in “Was It All In My Head?”, “Josslyn”, and “Sad Together”. The Results of My Poor Judgement, released this year on February 7, follows her 2019 micromixtape It Was a Sad Fucking Summer in an inferred narrative sequence – while It Was a Sad Fucking Summer channels the sweet and sour sentiment of reflecting on a failed relationship, The Results of My Poor Judgement conveys a deeper understanding of post-heartbreak injury. Though O’Brien herself indicates that the contents of her micromixtapes are not experientially bound, as songs can be revived from old sound experiments that don’t fit into a full-length album, I interpret The Results of My Poor Judgement as the flurry of realizations one experiences near the ‘acceptance’ stage of a breakup.
The micromixtape opens with reflection and self-doubt; “Was It All In My Head?” is part straightforward pop, part mixed-feelings. O’Brien berates herself repeatedly throughout the song, “I must be crazy, insane/Get way too carried away/…Been romanticizing/About all these boys who ain’t never gon’ like me” while simultaneously questioning whether the relationship and her partner’s romantic sentiment were as authentic as she had perceived them to be. On the receiving end of mixed signals and desperate for a rational explanation, O’Brien concludes that yes, even in a reluctance “to move on”, the essence of the relationship was a complete mental fabrication.
“Josslyn” is undoubtedly the highlight of the micromixtape – the song is a satisfyingly pounding barrage of “screw-you” sentiment, aimed to evoke guilt in amateur and serial cheaters alike. Galvanized over the fury of being cheated on, O’Brien flippantly asserts “But know we’re off and we’ll never be on again/I hope that it was worth it fucking Josslyn/Don’t wanna fight I just never wanna talk again/I hope that it was worth it fucking Josslyn”. Though fans question the origin of the title and partake in virtually tearing the anonymous ‘Josslyn’ apart, O’Brien expresses clear disapproval over this socially-ingrained practice of shaming the “other-woman” and not the disloyal partner themselves. In an interview with Zach Sang, O’Brien asserts that the anger in “Josslyn” is intended for the cheater and the cheater only – resentment towards the “other woman” is wrongfully displaced and perpetuates placing unhealthy trust in those who have failed you.
Whether you’re in the midst of a messy breakup or ambivalent to relationship drama in general, I would recommend giving The Results of My Poor Judgement a deep listen.