Friday, May 06, 2022

Lizzy McAlpine’s New Album Has Listeners In Love In ‘Five Seconds Flat’

Spinning a narrative masterpiece is no mean feat. Nevertheless, Lizzy McAlpine makes it look easy in her newest offering: an album entitled ‘Five Seconds Flat’. Track after track McAlpine manages to entrance her listeners with her personal stories that are wrapped in a layer of reliability.

Following the success of her debut album ‘Give Me A Minute’, McAlpine solidified her standing in the industry with both an organically developed fan-base and considerable social media attention.

She amassed millions of views on her TikTok-famous song ‘You Ruined The 1975’ but this is not how she would like to be remembered.

As an artist trying to attain growth and maturity through graft, this fleeting TikTok success was almost distasteful to her. Listeners who found her through this video may be disappointed to learn that McAlpine is never planning on releasing this song. 

However, the silver lining of this situation is that McAlpine has instead released a 14-track LP full of incredible songs. Anyone who has been aware of McAlpine will note how different the sound of ‘Five Seconds Flat’ is compared to her earlier work. This was done on purpose. Reflecting her personal growth, McAlpine wanted to step as far away from her previous sound as she could, hoping instead to better encapsulate who she became in writing this album.

But what brought about this change? Heartbreak.

An album entirely consumed with McAlpine’s own journey through a gut-wrenching period of time, she provides solace and relatable messages for her fans. The album opens with ‘Doomsday’, a track that impresses with its musical drama and fatalistic tone - not to mention its occasional spiteful lyricism. One sees for the first time a change in musical direction for McAlpine. At the root of her music will always be acoustic bones and her stunning vocals, however she seems to be shying away from pure acoustic. 

Tracks such as ‘An Ego Thing’ or ‘Weird’ do this with a lighter touch, at times reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers. However, songs such as ‘Erase Me’, ‘Reckless Driving’ and ‘Hate To Be Lame’ (all pre-released as singles) have a much more indie-techno feel to them. It’s incredibly impressive how well McAlpine and her production team have blended these elements to create cohesive songs. Even more impressive is the fact that all of these can stand on their own as impactful and memorable. That being said, it seems that McAlpine does not want to be pigeon-holed into one genre. Songs such as ‘Called You Again’ or ‘Ceilings’ have softer, more indie-folk leanings, while ‘Firearm’ calls heavy rock to mind. All sub-genres accounted for, this album has something for all listeners. 

McAlpine’s melodic writing sets her apart from most musicians nowadays. ‘Hate To Be Lame’ and ‘Erase Me’ are wonderful examples of this because they skirt the line between interesting and anticipated. It is not just her melodic writing that must be remarked upon, her lyricism is brilliant. It manages to dance between personal and relatable. ‘All My Ghosts’, for example, manages to fit feelings of hope, desperation, sweetness and doubt into one cohesive song and personal story. She also refuses to shy away from what could be deemed as uglier truths. ‘Nobody Likes A Secret’ and ‘What A Shame’ are examples of this. 

Impressive as well is the roster of artists McAlpine had feature on this album. Artists such as Finneas, Jacob Collier, Ben Kessler, and Laura Elliot all play their parts in this masterpiece.

It is clear that McAlpine worked incredibly hard on this album, paying special attention to the minute details but also how the whole album plays out from start to finish. The only way to listen to this album is to listen to it as McAlpine constructed it. Healing from heartbreak is not linear and nor is this album. The listener does not find themselves on a steady uptick, it is a tale of peaks and valleys. 

However, there is joy to be found in misery. Closing track, ‘Orange Show Speedway’ has McAlpine returning to where she fell in love years later. It’s a wonderfully upbeat and slightly chaotic track with layers of vocals, synths and guitar on top of private vlog-like voice recordings. Tonally, this is a magnificent way to end the album.

Ultimately, this album is incredibly versatile and exceedingly impressive. It will be interesting to see what McAlpine does next. For now however, ‘Five Seconds Flat’ is out on all streaming platforms and it is in the listeners’ best interest to seek it out. 

Chloe Boehm


Image: ‘Five Seconds Flat’ Official Album Cover

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