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Album Review: ‘Life Support’ features upbeat sound, falls short of reaching emotional depth

(Courtesy of Epic Records)

“Life Support”

Madison Beer

Epic Records

Released Feb. 26

By Lindsay Harrision

Feb. 26, 2021 7:48 p.m.

Madison Beer doesn’t need any more support after the release of her lively album.

Gaining fame nearly ten years ago for her Youtube singing videos, the melodic pop singer finally released her debut studio album, “Life Support,” Thursday night. In the record, she successfully utilizes her lilting voice in a harmonic album that expresses the emotional struggles of dealing with a toxic relationship– though at times the emotions emphasized feel superficial.

The album opens with “The Beginning,” which acts as a short, vocally-centered gateway to the following track, “Good In Goodbye.” This subsequent song combines smoky yet strong vocals with clever lyrics like “You put the ‘over’ in ‘lover,’ put the ‘ex’ in ‘next,’” to establish the album’s overarching theme of relationship struggles. Paired with the catchy lyrics are powerful beats textured with melodic undertones, giving the track an energetic yet regretful feel and serving as a strong opening to the album.

The following track, “Default,” boasts a slower beginning and gives a more somber tone to Beer’s journey through a broken relationship. However, later hints of bass lend the song more power, dramatizing her sorrow. Unfortunately, the somewhat abrupt ending to “Default” is joltingly met with rapid bass thrums in the next track, “Follow The White Rabbit.” The song is a quicker, more energetic record that embodies a darker intensity than the previous songs, effectively engaging the listener with the difficulties of dealing with a relationship filled with lies.

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But with a more harmonious beat, the album transitions into “Effortlessly,” a song centering on the theme of feeling overwhelmed, best captured by the lyric, “So I hold my breath to breathe.” The vocals and guitar beats attempt to portray Beer’s struggle with depressive moods, but the song fails to feel serious or authentic due to its over-dramatic synthetic instrumentals. The following – albeit unmemorable – track, “Stay Numb And Carry On,” falls into the same trap as it hints at emotional authenticity but ultimately is unable to communicate anything meaningful.

After the mediocrity of “Stay Numb and Carry On,” the album moves onto the catchier song, “Blue,” describing how Beer knows she must leave a troubled relationship. The song is reflective and dramatic, relying on the modern pop beats and energetic vocals that have begun to define the album. Similarly characterized by its dreamy tones and gentle guitar, the next track, “Homesick,” feels refreshing after the energy and drama of the previous tracks, even if many other songs outshine it due to its modesty.

More vivacity is brought back into the album with “Selfish,” which features more bass and pop beats. In the track, Beer’s lilting voice conveys feelings of regret and disappointment in herself, backed by a harmony of violin, harp and guitar notes. In a shift of tone, the next song “BOYSHIT” is one of the album’s more memorable due to its high energy and sass, following pop convention with its synthetic and fast beats at the cost of emotional depth.

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The following track, “Baby,” embodies Beer’s confidence with sensual undertones provided by the integration of a harp into the pop beats. The fast beat lends itself to yet again another catchy and uncomplicated track, great for casual listening. But as the album continues on, it feels as though the record attempts to convey deeper emotions than can be accomplished by the euphonious pop beats it uses. Songs like “Stained Glass” and “Emotional Bruises” are adamant in their determination to maintain the album’s powerful energy, which ultimately hampers their ability to communicate solemn emotions.

The album’s finale transitions into an even slower and more gentle tone. With patient guitar strums and softer vocals, the penultimate track “Everything Happens For A Reason” effectively conveys Beer’s continuing hopeless love for someone. However, the song does not stray from the upbeat tone of the album, hinting that Beer has accepted that she will always be hopelessly in love. Coming to a close with “Channel Surfing / The End,” the album ends with a track composed of various recording snippets that somewhat mirror the opening track, serving as a fitting conclusion to the album.

Alternating between softer and more forceful tracks, Beer makes use of her smoky vocals and maintains pop music energy throughout her debut album. Although much of “Life Support” is emotionally shallow and saturated with pop music conventions, the variety of energetic beats paired with Beer’s lush voice lend themselves to an appealing album.

So while the vibrant pop sound of “Life Support” produces a euphonic album, it could use a little more support to bring to life its emotional authenticity.

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Lindsay Harrision
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