Her unassuming debut, Before Lately, was an exercise in minimalist pop, and Cheyenne Marie Mize expands on her less-is-more approach with We Don’t Need. No matter the instruments she’s incorporated into her arrangements, and no matter how much noise those instruments make, Mize’s thoughtful compositions explore negative space and meticulously layer sounds in ways that impress for both their creativity and fearlessness. That We Don’t Need is just a six-track EP only heightens the sense that Mize can turn just a few morsels into a full-on feast.
The jaw-dropping lead single, “Wishing Well,” opens the set, using nothing more than an impossibly dense array of “found” percussion to create a rapid-fire ode to being hard up that owes as much to vintage R&B as it does to experimental modern pop. Mize’s singing voice is disarmingly sweet, and she plays up her girlish tone as she spits the line, “Once upon a time, I had a wish/But I never thought I would’ve found you/Came into my life and now/Can’t enough of your anytime lovin’.” It’s a structurally brilliant little song that manages to be playful without being cloying or twee.
If the remainder of We Don’t Need fails to match its opening track, that’s a matter of Mize having set the bar too high. “Call Me Beautiful” hinges on sonic dissonance, with ghostly, wordless background vocals pitched against the song’s melody to create a genuinely melancholy tone, while “Good Time” is a rollicking power-pop tune driven by some church-piano power chords and exuberant handclaps, suggesting a lo-fi version of a Ben Folds radio anthem. The last couple of tracks on the album, however, take a much harder-edged and less accessible approach; both “Keep It” and “It Lingers,” with their heavily distorted electric guitar riffs and prominent rhythm sections, recall Dry-era PJ Harvey.
Individually, these tracks are exceptional. If there’s a knock against We Don’t Need, it’s that Mize’s freewheeling shifts between genres suggest a certain degree of dilettantism. But because Mize filters each of the styles she adopts over the course of the EP through her relatively minimalist, progressive approach to pop, the set is more cohesive than it might have been otherwise, allowing We Don’t Need to showcase the remarkable range of her talent.