Things fall apart on Tieran's heartbroken new album

Andy Downing
Tieran Cline

Last time around, on 2018 full-lengthDeep End, Tieran Cline delved into the fallout from a physical assault, opening with a series of angry, confused songs that spiraled out of an incident at a Lancaster skate park where an assailant punched the rapper with so much force that it dislodged several teeth. 

On new albumWhere's She At?, available on streaming services and at on Friday, Oct. 30, the rapper experiences another devastating punch, this one to the gut, as he details a relationship moving from its flirtatious first stages to a heartbreaking end. 

Cline wrote the heavier back half of the album nearly two years ago, as a previous relationship was drawing to an end, and tracks such as “Cupid” reflect his shattered headspace. “Not a single girl can fix me/It’s just me and this whiskey,” he raps on the song, whose chorus centers on the idea that Cupid’s arrow has missed the mark, dealing a deadly blow rather than sending hearts aflutter. Elsewhere, the MC struggles to pinpoint what went wrong (“Still don’t know why you ran away,” he offers on “Come Home”), combats his growing depression with medication (“Go Away”) and struggles to find a sense of closure. “Did you even love me back then?” he asks on the album-ending “Call It Off,” on which finality arrives only when the narrator dials his ex’s number and finds it disconnected.

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Though framed by the breakup, the back half of the album doubles as a more personal account of the rapper’s past struggles with depression, and how he previously looked to others to imbue him with a false sense of happiness.

“That is a big part of the record, because in the earlier stages of my life I really was looking for happiness in a relationship,” Cline said recently by phone. “I always thought that if I had that relationship that was good, my depression wouldn’t exist anymore. And I think … the last half of that record, you can tell I’m dealing with things outside of this breakup. And I think the record touches on the idea that, yeah, your depression could be part of what is ruining these relationships.”

Before tumbling into these lows, though, Where's She At? opens on an ecstatic high, with tracks informed by an ongoing relationship. This means that songs such as shimmying dance floor anthem “Isolate Them Hips” and the empathetic “Heal,” on which the new lovers compare emotional scars and trace their shared progress, were written more recently and reflect better current days.

“It definitely happened backwards for me, because first the breakup happened and then I found someone,” Cline said. “So, basically, the record starts from the end.”

While Cline said that the ongoing pandemic had no impact on the making of the album, which was largely completed before the word COVID-19 worked its way into the national vocabulary, the concept does take on added power at this point in time, with the rapper exploring the fibers that bind in an era when many are isolated. Expect these ideas to surface even more heavily on future projects, as more recent songs have taken shape amid stay at home orders and social distancing requirements. 

“I do feel like it’s affecting the music I’m making now, at times, just because we’re so isolated, which, I’ve always been pretty isolated, but I am more so now than ever,” Cline said. “And so that does become part of the music. … Writing a song, it’s just like writing in your diary. Putting it on paper can give you closure, or can help you understand your own feelings and make you just be able to cope with things and figure them out. And that’s definitely what I do with the music: I pour it onto the paper and then let it fly.”