A debut album that is so densely centered around a certain theme is usually poorly executed. Whether it be lack of cohesion (or too much cohesion, for that matter) or just inexperience, poorly written lyrics or not enough resources, many concept albums are especially not very well done. When it comes to Melanie Martinez’s debut, on the contrary, she knew exactly what she was doing and how to do it. This record was captivating from the very first few seconds through the three bonus tracks and lives on to be one of the best albums of 2015, along with one of the best debut records ever recorded. I can say with confidence that there are no “bad” songs on here; “bad” being defined by either being sonically unpleasant or awkwardly produced, without any major redeemable qualities in terms of lyrics or vocals. Each song is oriented around childish sounds, from toy noises, inspiration from nursery rhymes, and themes about elementary school, and an overall juvenile appearance in music videos and cover art. Musically, it’s in the electropop genre and every song is so dream like, yet almost too real for comfort. The entire record itself is so well done, and each theme found in every song is just as nicely produced, which creates a high sense of intricacy while remaining intact to the original album idea. Lyrically is where things become really interesting, where we’re presented lines alluding to adult themes from drugs, sex, plastic surgery, and the like. We follow our character named Cry Baby through many phases of her life that aren’t always pleasant. “Too close for comfort” is actually probably an understatement; this record is blunt art at its finest, and may make you uncomfortable if the pop melodies aren’t distracting enough.
***Before we get into it, let’s also keep in mind that music is subjective and that everyone has their own opinions, if my rankings don’t align with yours, that is perfectly a-okay, just don’t be a jerk about it. I will also only be commenting on the top five instead of the entire project just for simplicity.***
#15. “Play Date”
#14. “Pity Party”
#13. “Milk and Cookies”
#12. “Cry Baby”
#11. “Training Wheels”
#9. “Sippy Cup”
#7. “Pacify Her”
#6. “Teddy Bear”
The production that veers on EDM mixed with silky smooth vocals is so perfect on this song that although it wants to be dark and creepy, the pop influences on here keep it from getting that far. The vintage sounding piano effect on here is also a perfect touch, adding to the overall concept without derailing the track entirely.
#4. “Alphabet Boy”
Each song on here is phenomenal in the lyrical department but this one is definitely one of the best out of them all. The verses are written in a way where there are onyly four lines and each line emphasizes a letter from the alphabet. It’s a subtle technique that provides so much to this track that can be so easily overlooked, but it’s also one thing that you’ll never forget once you realize it’s there.
#3. “Mad Hatter”
Everyone loves Alice In Wonderland and the best part about this song is that it literally makes you feel like you fell down the rabbit hole with Alice. As I mentioned previously, all of the themes for each song are perfectly crafted, especially this one. Lyrics that make you feel out of your mind paired with a strong dance beat is what makes this song feel larger than life, just like the film. It’s not only insanely fun but it also puts one of your favorite childhood movies in a perfect mini song version.
#2. “Mrs. Potato Head”
This song alludes to plastic surgery all the while creating images of Mrs. and Mr. Potato Head, known for having interchangeable parts including arms, legs, and facial features. Referring to these procedures as “ornaments” and going on to say things like “a hundred thousand dollars for some compliments” and “does a new face come with a warranty?”, it’ quite the jarring tune. However, the fact that it’s based around a midtempo, soft pop feel, it becomes an ear worm that’s impossible to ignore.
#1 “Tag, You’re It”
In this song, our character that we follow is kidnapped by a wolf, which is reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood, perfectly fitting into our ever evolving theme which features children’s tunes and stories. This one feels so real at times it might give you chills, from the deep vocal alterations when she begins to impersonate the wolf to how frantic it all starts to feel towards the end. This one especially is a little disorienting but undeniably one of the best produced tracks on the entire project.