Music Reviews

New Releases Roundup – Pale Waves, Olivia Rodrigo, Fickle Friends, You Me At Six, dodie and Lana Del Rey

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Gemma and Kiah are back with their New Releases Roundup, featuring some of the most popular and anticipated releases of 2021.

Easy – Pale Waves (Gemma):

The third single released in anticipation of their sophomore record ‘Who am I?’, Easy is a romantic ode to a relationship that is effortless and a love that comes naturally. It depicts love’s powerful ability to change your outlook and perspective on life, causing things to make sense in a newfound and previously unexperienced way.

Much like the previous singles Changes and She’s My Religion, Easy channels the energy of early 2000’s alternative pop punk, with warm guitars and slick, clean production. The most notable comparison is pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne, who is a huge musical inspiration for lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie.

“Love can change your whole perspective, not only of yourself but of life too,” Baron-Gracie explains. “It’s the most heartfelt moment throughout the album and it is a genuine, feel-good love song.” Originally a piano ballad, it was adapted into a more upbeat track to successfully capture the uplifting and inspiring spirit of love.

drivers license – Olivia Rodrigo (Gemma):

A song which has completely taken the internet by storm due to going viral on Tik Tok, earning 67 million Spotify streams within 6 days of its release, drivers license depicts an emotionally raw tale of heartbreak. After a bit of sleuthing on the internet, it appears to be based on a true story, in which the boy who Rodrigo loves (assumed to be fellow ‘High School Musical: The Musical’ cast member Joshua Bassett) betrays her for a “blonde” girl (assumed to be Sabrina Carpenter). 

The song is an emotional whirlwind to listen to, rich with raw honesty and true, real feelings

The comparisons to Taylor Swift are to be expected, but they are something that both Rodrigo and Swift are embracing, with Swift referring to her as “my baby” in an Instagram comment in which she expressed her pride in the 17-year-old’s success. This follows Swift’s declaration of Rodrigo as a “true talent” at the end of 2020, a mere few weeks before the unprecedented viral success of her debut single.

The song is an emotional whirlwind to listen to, rich with raw honesty and true, real feelings. It is a record-breaking viral phenomenon, and a very unique case as, prior to this single, Rodrigo’s name was practically unknown to most. However, from a shout-out from the likes of Taylor Swift and the Dolan Twins, to its viral TikTok success, alongside the captivating and intriguing drama surrounding the track, it is hardly surprising.

IRL – Fickle Friends (Gemma):

A track from their latest EP ‘Weird Years (Season 1)’, IRL strikes a comparison between communication via text message and communication in real life. This is abbreviated as IRL in the title of the track – a clever way to encapsulate the song, as the title uses a common text abbreviation to capture the currently online-only nature of the relationship.

It expresses the desire to speak to someone in person rather than over the internet, however it simultaneously worries about whether the relationship can last when it is transferred from the online world into the real world, and it is no longer just taking place on a screen.

Missing the benefits of face-to-face communication is an increasingly relatable topic during the UK’s third COVID-19 national lockdown. Everyone is desperate for IRL interaction at the moment, rather than the impersonal nature of text messages and seeing someone’s face on a screen in Zoom calls, resulting in a highly relatable listen.

Sonically, the track embodies Fickle Friend’s renowned sound based on their previous releases. The track is an upbeat and catchy sunshine indie-pop track, with a fast, punchy pace which perfectly conveys the exciting yet mysterious nature of online romantic interactions.

The EP overall is varied in terms of sound, with slower ballad leaning tracks such as 92 and Finish Line appearing amongst upbeat pop bangers like Million and IRL. This successfully demonstrates the band’s impressive versatility and newfound experimentations.

Glasgow – You Me At Six (Gemma):

Glasgow is a stand-out track from You Me At Six’s 7th record ‘SUCKAPUNCH’, despite not being released as a single.

“We always like to try and have a slow song on the album,” vocalist Josh Franceschi muses, “and this one sort of presented itself in a way that was quite melancholic but without it being overly sad. I think if you put on a record and every song feels like the track before, you start tuning out. Something that we really spoke about was how can we have a bunch of islands, and approach the songs as their own thing, and then colonise them and make them feel like this overriding You Me At Six product. Glasgow slotted in and took the role of the slow song.”

The journey of the song is its strength, both lyrically and sonically, with the euphoric repetition of “We’ve got to stitch us back together” in the outro

Guitarist Max Helyer explains “It’s a pay-off when you get to that part of the song where it lifts off. You feel a massive release of endorphins. That’s what this song was about to me, the journey. And I think Josh’s lyrics articulate that really well,” and I couldn’t agree with him more. The journey of the song is its strength, both lyrically and sonically, with the euphoric repetition of “We’ve got to stitch us back together” in the outro.

The song is a slow burning build-up of energy. It begins as a slow paced, moody toned ballad, but reaches its crescendo roughly four minutes into the track, seeing a change in pace for the remaining one minute and forty second outro. It is the longest song on the album by over half a minute, but its sudden change in tone prevents it from feeling boring, long or monotonous. Instead, it is an exciting and impressive listen.

Hate Myself – dodie (Kiah):

This week, dodie has unveiled the third single from her upcoming album, Build a Problem, which is due to be released in March. In a pre-release livestream, dodie explained how the song reflects her anxiety when someone is silent or dealing with their emotions internally, resulting in her illogically believing she is the problem.

Despite the song’s more introspective and troubled lyrics, Hate Myself is accompanied with an upbeat rhythmic backing, reminiscent of dodie’s old songs on her YouTube channel, ‘doddleoddle’. This ties in with the overarching theme of the album, with the majority of the songs having been demoed or unofficially released on her YouTube over the last few years.

Complementing the single is a music video directed by Sammy Paul – filmmaker, YouTuber and long-term friend of dodie. The music video is set in a village called Polperro in Cornwall and shows dodie dedicatedly training to become a postwoman; fans have speculated the meaning of the video to be a metaphor about trying to deliver a message and overcompensating in communication to make up for other people’s silence.

Further experimenting and creating a more polished sound, Hate Myself showcases dodie’s ability to incorporate various musical instruments in her music, miles away from the simplicity of 2016’s Intertwined EP.

Chemtrails Over The Country Club – Lana Del Rey (Kiah):

Chemtrails Over The Country Club has been released as the title track for Lana Del Rey’s upcoming seventh studio album, set to be released in March 2021. The album was originally announced to be called ‘White Hot Forever’, when Lana announced she had started working on the album in 2019, but confirmed in May 2020 that it was now titled ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’. The title track is a dreamy love song that glamourises the memories of normal everyday life, accompanied with a delicate melody that compliments Lana’s soft vocals.

The title track is a dreamy love song that glamourises the memories of normal everyday life

The song was released with an intricate music video that combined glamorous and gothic visuals, a common trope in Lana’s music. The video followed Lana as she lives an idealised life, shot with high saturation which develops into a dark fantasy life.

When talking with interview magazine, Lana described Chemtrails as when “you’re starting to talk about all these new places and slowly planting little flags and creating little emotional homes in other parts of America.” This can definitely be seen in the lyrics of the new song which romanticises memories of summer and suburban life.

Chemtrails Over The Country Club largely follows in Lana’s distinct dreamy style of music, but is built upon in the bridge which alters the rhythm of the song, adding more layers and variety to the sound.

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Featured image courtesy of Nina via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @palewaves, @ficklefriends and @doddleoddle via No changes made to these images.

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