“Coping Mechanism” Album/Tour Review

Written by on February 22, 2023

By Danielle Vuono

Departing from her typical alternative genre, Willow Smith experimented with rock for her fifth studio album, “<Coping Mechanism>.” This pop-punk album was released on October 7, 2022, and is made up of 11 songs, all co-written by the singer. 

This album, in short, is an expression of Willow’s experience with sapphic love. She sings of heartbreak, betrayal, and desire in an extremely vulnerable manner. As a queer woman myself, I appreciate how raw Willow is with her emotions. The lyrics are so genuine, that it is hard not to relate to what she is saying.

“Don’t wanna see, don’t wanna speak, forget to breathe, forget to be, just like I always do,” Willow sings in the song titled “No Control.”

Along with her moving words, the overall composition of her songs are nothing short of perfection. With rock instrumentals playing in each track, the drums are guaranteed to get your head banging and the electric guitar will have your jaw dropped. This selection of songs are a seamless combination of rock, alternative, with laid-back rhythm and blues. As a sucker for harmonizes, I am in love with Willow for including harmonizes in the background of every single track. 

A few weeks into listening to only this record on repeat, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Willow post an advertisement for her two live shows promoting “<Coping Mechanism>” on Instagram. I immediately bought tickets for her New York City show at Terminal 5 on November 3, 2022. Since this event was general admission, I waited a few hours in order to get a front row spot and it was worth it.

Willow was carried onto the stage laying on a bright orange couch, which set the tone for this incredible show. Her energy exuded through the entire venue- there was not one audience member not jumping around with her. The live band was electric and the guitar soloist featured during the song “Falling Endlessly” was exceptional. Willow even played her own electric guitar, to which I caught her pick after the show!

She performed every track from the new record, as well as some of her past songs like “Wait a Minute!” and “Meet Me at Our Spot” for the encore. If I could pick any concert to relive, it would, hands down, be this one. I often joke that this album was made for me, but I assume many other women loving women would agree. Willow effortlessly encapsulates the adversity that comes with queer love in her edgy, no-skip album “<Coping Mechanism>.”

Photo by Danielle Vuono