Sunday, April 11, 2021

Alice Phoebe Lou Gets Authentic With Latest Album “Glow”

For many artists, quarantine has proven to be a catalyst for creativity and inspiration. This couldn’t be truer for genre-bending indie artist Alice Phoebe Lou. With the release of her third studio album ‘Glow’, Lou embraces a new era of vulnerability, authenticity and introspection. 

‘Glow’, which was created entirely in quarantine, is an ode to being hopelessly in love and embracing the complicated emotions that accompany it. Being in quarantine forced Lou to reconnect with herself and her emotions, after spending 2019 touring extensively. 

Of the creation process, Lou states on her website, “[I] started writing songs straight from my heart, without editing the words to sound cooler, & stopping myself from feeling self-conscious about expressing my vulnerabilities”. 

The resulting album is packed with love songs (which Lou previously avoided), and bursts at the seams with authenticity. Lou’s vivid, honest lyrics, whispery vocals and ethereal, dreamlike instrumentals work together to paint a picture of her inner world. The added touch of recording to tape with twentieth-century recording techniques gives the album’s sound a well-loved feel.

‘Glow’ opens with ‘Only When I’, a quiet, mellow tune that immediately establishes the album’s dreamy, ethereal tone. A relaxed, minimalist instrumental punctuated by shimmering keys gives Lou’s subdued vocals space to shine. The song’s understated elegance gently eases the listener into the album before the titular single ‘Glow’ transitions to a lighter feel while remaining introspective. ‘Glow’ is rich in imagery and contradiction. Despite its bright, up-tempo instrumental, the lyrics convey a deep sense of confusion, longing, loneliness, and anger as Lou croons “I am smiling, I am screaming, I am glowing from inside / Do I dare to feel this feeling?”. Striking imagery drives home the conflicting emotions and pervading sense of loneliness with lyrics such as “I fill the whole room with salty tears / I swim out of the window and into the night” and “I squeeze a little tighter and suddenly, I'm holding my own body / There's an empty space where you once offered yourself to me”. 

‘Glow’ is the first of several songs on the album that explores conflicting, paradoxical emotions. The middle of the album takes a pensive turn with ‘Mother’s Eyes’ and ‘How to Get out Of Love’. ‘Mother’s Eyes’ is a bittersweet reflection that loses some of the dreaminess of the previous songs in favour of raw emotion. Lou’s vocals are clear and vulnerable, cut through with cracks of sadness. As she reflects on her life and the person she’s becoming, she begins to grapple with the reality of wanting someone, but not having the capacity to love them. 

The heartache rings through her voice as she sings “I want you, but I don't want you to be mine / Feels like the paradox of my life...Loving you's the cure and the crime”. ‘How to Get out Of Love’ immediately follows it and picks up a similar theme, clearly becoming the album’s lowest point. The song conveys pure vulnerability through a stripped-down instrumental, reminiscent of a voice memo and soft vocals. Lou sings about needing brutal honesty in order to let go and get rid of her false hope, even if it means heartbreak. The song takes on a certain sad sweetness as Lou gets candid about her deep love for the person she needs to let go of, and the lingering hope that still remains.

Although the album expertly tackles the complicated emotions that come with loss, the true heart of ‘Glow’ lies within its love songs. The album is brimming with the pure bliss of falling in love. Lou explains, “This album simply poured out of my heart & my subconscious & there was no stopping the lovestruck nature of them”. The authenticity of the love songs is certainly evident and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the lovestruck, euphoric feeling that Lou describes. ‘Dusk’ is an adorable, lilting tune that paints a picture of being young and in love. 

Subtle piano and clarinet create a youthful, carefree atmosphere as Lou sings “the world don't matter / When we're looking at each other”. ‘Heavy / / Light as Air’ continues on the themes of pure bliss and getting totally wrapped up in someone. It starts out quietly, fitting with the somber ending of ‘How to Get Out of Love’ which precedes it. However, when the light, airy instrumental kicks in, it feels like the fog has lifted and the sun has come out. ‘Lover / / Over the Moon’ takes a more reflective approach as Lou begins to discover new things about herself because of the person she loves. The song displays a particular tenderness as Lou expresses how her lover has made her life so much better. ‘Velvet Mood’ uses vivid imagery, velvety guitar, and an unexpectedly tender ending to describe an encounter with someone that leaves you completely undone. 

‘Lovesick’ is the album’s grand finish. The majority of the album has been spent exploring different aspects of love, questioning whether or not it’s okay to feel so deeply in love, and playing with the complex emotions that accompany it. However, the final track showcases Lou fully embracing the endless love that she has, and all the quirks that come with it. Lou’s voice soars over a lush instrumental as she sings “I can't help thinking about all of the perks of loving you / Even if I have to hold this love alone until it passes through”. The album fades out on Lou crooning, “I ache for you”. With her acceptance of the love that has poured out of her and into her music, the journey of ‘Glow’ is complete. 

Alice Phoebe Lou’s ‘Glow’ is an understated, gorgeous exploration of the many complex facets of love and life. Even at its most emotional, the album never loses its spark of hope and sweetness. With vulnerability and originality, Lou gently brings the listener on a journey into her inner world. On writing the album, she says that “instead of making people think, I wanted to simply make people feel”. She has definitely accomplished this, creating an album that gently and authentically takes on universal emotions. If you’re looking for an album that will make you feel, look no further than ‘Glow’.  

Bella DeSouza-Cook


Image: ‘Glow’ Official Album Cover 

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