2021 • POP • EPIC
The long-awaited debut album by American singer and TikTok star is ambitious but aimless, intimate yet shallow and seems more concerned with proving something than actually doing something.
Madison Beer came to experience in her own skin how unfair and cruel the music industry can be with very successful women. Since her first single, “Melodies,” released in 2013, Beer seems to have spent more time getting involved in polemics and trying to deal with them than actually making music. She was compared to Ariana Grande, was accused of romanticizing pedophilia for praising the book Lolita and also had problems with her label because she felt “trapped” — ironically, Beer’s label was chosen by Justin Bieber after Madison posted a cover on her channel on YouTube and her agent was Scooter Braun, who has recently had problems with Taylor Swift. Now it’s been 8 years since Madison started her career and her debut album, Life Support, is finally here.
Beer has been through a lot in the last decade that clearly shaped her as a person and an artist. However, none of these things seem to be reflected in Life Support. According to her, the album is a kind of place where she would be herself and also a place where she would explore her condition of borderline personality through an arc of a breakup. But, at the end of the day, Life Support seems more concerned with being an album full of things and overly ambitious, shooting for every direction when it comes to techniques, influences, themes, and sounds, resulting in something superficial. Its sound is comprehensive, but the contrasts are not at all interesting and harmonious. Its lyrics are interesting and have potential but the execution ended up making songs that walk the line between being a smart intimate song and a catchy track easy to associate with. In other words, Life Support is kinda disappointing despite being catchy.
The album’s weakest point is perhaps its ability to be totally anti-climatic. Several songs here start with great potential, however, a few seconds later they become a group of generic and uninteresting beats. Take as an example “Follow The White Rabbit,” which starts with a thick solo giving a very dark and fanciful aspect to the song, but then, in the chorus, it delivers something very bland that doesn’t match with what the song was building. Likewise, “Blue” begins as a dark serenade reminiscent of Lana Del Rey’s early career, however, its chorus it’s just robotic repetition; “Selfish” dismisses its beginning of the pop orchestra to become something lo-fi acoustic; “Baby” is just forgettable. In the macro aspect, we see the same thing. The introduction, “The Beginning,” the interlude, and the closing, “Channel Surfing / The End,” give a more refined touch to the album, but its content is not as refined or serious as Beer makes it seem.
However, of course, Madison Beer is talented and she manages to deliver some good tracks, even if it’s not entirely out of the box or ambitious or revolutionary. “Good In Goodbye” and “Default” work on heavy, mysterious synthesizers that make you automatically think of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Also, “Good In Goodbye” features the best lines on the album — “I would take a bullet for you just to taste my love/Only to find out you are the one holding the gun.” On the other hand, other tracks manage to go a bit beyond interesting sonic pieces, like “Effortlessly,” where she works with antiquity and self-mutilation, and “Homesick,” a song she sings for ETs because she believes she came from space for not fit on planet Earth — “How come when you drove by, wouldn’t you stop to visit?” she sings. Even “BOYSHIT,” a totally generic pop trap track, ends up being kinda fun. However, at the end of the day, we cannot ignore the fact that it is a very long album full of uninteresting and irrelevant songs. For her next step, perhaps, Beer should leave Earth a little to do something from another planet.