On the Classical's Survival of the Softest, Berkeley singer-producer Juliet Gordon sings as if she's sharpening a blade. The dark, experimental pop record speaks from the point of view of a "soft" person who's had enough of being submissive, malleable, and meek: In other words, she's finally snapped. "Why’s it selfish to try to survive?," she asks on the high-drama opening track, "Theme for a Gorgon." The song, with its swelling synths and thundering snares, builds suspense at the slow pace of menacing footsteps echoing down a concrete hallway.
The reference to the gorgon, the snake-haired creature from Greek mythology, speaks to Gordon's embracing the archetype of a female monster throughout the album, turning the tables on oppressive and obnoxious men. On "Why Don't You Make Me Smile," she flips the stereotypical street harasser's pick-up line. "Why don’t you make me smile? / I learn nothing but patience here / From your incessant diatribes," she taunts, mustering the faux-sincere tone of a woman who's nodded politely to mansplainers one too many times.
But Gordon's lyrics aren't just righteous anger. In fact, her fictionalized persona throughout the album is more of a misunderstood anti-hero who reveals both her vulnerabilities ("Uh Oh") and morbid fantasies ("My Death"). (It should come as no surprise that Gordon has a background in acting.) The album taps into a similar feeling of a breaking point that catalyzed the #MeToo movement, and the diabolical, unhinged personas Gordon inhabits can feel cathartic for anyone who's felt stunned or helpless in the face of sexist microagressions.