The British-born composer-songwriter Sasha Siem dives into femininity and its frustrations on “Most of the Boys,” a song cycle chronicling her relationships not only with the titular boys, but also with herself. The tension rests in the dichotomies that women have to navigate, sometimes begrudgingly, in 21st-century society; personal and public selves, acting mannerly and offering honesty, showing confidence while nursing wounds. On tracks like “Seamy Side,” Siem’s whispery coo contrasts sharply with her stuffed arrangements. That voice also makes her wordplay, delivered with a wink and served up in a teasing way, go down smoother. “We’re all so polite/ because we want to be liked,” she sighs at the close of “So Polite,” rolling her eyes at the world’s slights while tense strings bounce off crashing drums. Siem’s lack of regard for decorum makes the album a compelling listen; her ability to turn the voices in her head into a twisted orchestra results in a brazen take on womanhood that’s also pleasing to the ear. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “So Polite”Maura Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.