A brief note about this article: This discussion includes explicit references to pornography, addiction, and sobriety. These topics were instrumental in the conception, creation and eventual release of the discussed album, INT. BEACH’s “Vignettes No. 3.” Proceed with caution if any of these themes are triggering.
On Jan. 17, 2023, Lawrentian first-year Isaac Corby (they/them) released their third album, “Vignettes No. 3,” under the alias INT. BEACH (stylized in all caps). “It’s pronounced interior,” they reiterated when I interviewed them on Jan. 23, 2023 in their dorm room.
It’s not hard to see how musical Corby is. On their bed was a guitar case; under their bed was a MIDI keyboard; a tambourine sat atop their wardrobe; various toy horns and whistles scattered their desk. Whenever inspiration hits, they can quickly take out their laptop, record, and compose a loop within minutes.
This creative drive is what pushed Corby to make “Vignettes No. 3,” a continuation on their thematic “vignette” sequencing in the rest of their discography. With a whopping 33 tracks, clocking in at just over an hour and a half, they were not shy with their ambition. It’s a sprawling, dissonant, but cathartic ode to acknowledging the pain that paved the way to the present moment. And that, when asked, is what Corby describes as their happiness.
Because of its length, it’s nearly impossible to categorize what genre the record is. Corby draws in inspiration from many sources — Tom Waits, Ben Levin, Jon Dwyer and Kurt Cobain — but their sound truly is their own. They joke around and call it “postcore,” a portmanteau of an overused prefix and suffix in the music world, but realistically, you cannot box it in to just one sound. There are two constants, however: personality and screaming.
When asked, Corby thoroughly believes that everyone should scream more. They joke about how workplaces should implement “scream zones.” It’s cathartic and vulnerable in a way in words alone can’t capture. A majority of the tracks include screaming and generally loud noises, distorted in ways only Corby can comprehend.
Because of this potent personality, “Vignettes No. 3” may be hard to listen to — which the artist themself admits. But beyond these layers is an unfettered clarity that’s true to Corby: sonically, lyrically, and thematically.
Following the release of “Vignettes No. 2,” released in May 2022, Corby frankly felt depressed. They had recently become sober from their pornography addiction following its creation. “It felt like a stranger had put out the record,” they said.
Over the summer, however, their newfound sobriety motivated them to write, compose, and create — more than ever. When arriving at Lawrence, they were astounded by the welcoming community, the creativity, and overall warmth of campus. This accelerated “Vignettes No. 3”’s creation considerably.
Instead of vaguely painting their own sadness as this collective cause, Corby pinpointed the root of this depression — their addiction and following sobriety — and “spun [it] into a wheel of gold.” They say this record is their twelfth step: carrying on the message of sobriety to others. They implore people to find the resources they need to overcome whatever affliction they bear.
This sense of community pours in on “Vignettes No. 3” in a handful of spots. Whether it be Eli Wikre’s trumpet on “San Maria,” Rebecca Reynolds’s strings on “I’d Like to See You Underwater” or Eli Orion’s violins on the same track, Corby was enthralled by trusting someone else with their vision. “[Their work] couldn’t have turned out better,” they explained with a smile. “It was perfect.”
Some notable highlights from the record include “Baby Blue, Nothing Bothers You,” an overindulgent but hilariously cute number with annoying falsettos and an unorthodox harmonica solo. It also interpolates a melody from a Backyardigans song. Somehow, it has the least streams on Spotify, which Corby feels comically “upset” about. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” they laugh.
Another highlight, and my personal favorite, is “I Don’t Drink Tea.” Corby believes it features some of their best lyrical work, with lush piano harmonies and an impassioned vocal performance. It’s a candid snapshot into their life, where its beauty is defined by its uniqueness.
The blunt “My Name Is Isaac, I’m a Porn Addict” is perhaps the most poetic on the record. They ramble about their addiction with incredibly clever wordplay over a dystopian instrumental. Again, it’s a track only they could create.
The previously mentioned “I’d Like To See You Underwater” is one of the more accessible tracks on “Vignettes No. 3” for how cinematic it is; however, Corby does not compromise a strand of their individuality here. It’s a love song dedicated to their partner who played a significant role in achieving their sobriety. The guitar solo here is notable, with Corby absolutely killing it over this sanguine instrumental.
Corby feels especially proud of the last track “When You’re Not Wasted.” In their words, “It’s like a scream … but as soft as possible.” It was recorded in one take — just them and an acoustic guitar — with several “flaws” in the recording. If anything, they make the track even more beautiful and human, as if Corby is performing it right in front of the listener.
By letting go of the obsession with control on this track — and in general — they importantly acknowledge but release the chains that locked them to their addiction and past.
While “Vignettes No. 3” is available on all streaming services under INT. BEACH, I implore you support Corby directly on their website, intbeach.bandcamp.com. You can support their artistry directly and read their fantastic lyrics, as well as explore their other works. They are truly a talent to behold.
To view Isaac Corby’s website, click here.