Since the 2018 release of her debut as I Ya Toyah, Ania Tarnowska has clearly made an effort for her music to be a beacon of hope in the face of despair, with her latest EP continuing in that vein. As she did on Code Blue, the artist confronts the darker corners of the human psyche on Out of Order, but this time with her musical and lyrical spears sharpened and aimed directly at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on both her individual and our collective mental health. Lyrics like “Pray to your gods for me ‘cause I got none” and “Do you know how to get out of this madness?” resonate very palpably with a shared sense of frustration and rage, while the opening title track sets the tone with a line like “It’s a safety vest when I just wanna drown.” And yet, amid the turmoil, I Ya Toyah still offers a shred of assurance as she sings “It’s darker on the other side” on “Death’s Kiss,” not only recalling the themes of suicide prevention that resounded on the previous album, but also succoring the need many have felt for the isolation of the pandemic to finally end. Out of Order does present a step forward for Tarnowska’s production capabilities, best exemplified by the techno/EBM orchestrations of “Death’s Kiss,” the synthwave and drum & bass hybrid of “Concrete,” and the blazing industrialized rock of “Pray” and “Vast Spaces.” However, it is her voice that shines most brilliantly on the EP, as every track showcases not only her dynamic and powerful range – from darkly ominous lows to soaring emotive highs – but also her penchant for lush harmonies and even some sublime vocoder enhancements, most prominent on “Pray.” The notion of music as therapy is certainly nothing new, but I Ya Toyah’s Out of Order EP takes it very seriously, proving the vitality and essential need for art and creativity as the ultimate form of empathy in the most trying situations. On top of that, these five songs show the artist continuing to improve her skills as a composer and producer, making it all the more engaging and rewarding.