3 Albums That Need Your Ears This Week: Further Joy by The Regrettes, Five Seconds Flat by Lizzy McAlpine, and Rx by Role Model
I actually saw The Regrettes play live before I knew much of any of their music. I went with a friend to Orange County to see them play a tiny room. It was that night that I fell in love for the, at the time, unreleased track "You're So Fucking Pretty" (and also stood in front of Dylan Minnette most of the show). I've been following The Regrettes ever since. While their older, punkier music wasn't exactly my thing, Further Joy has made my heart so full. When I finally gave it a proper listen this morning, I kept adding track after track to my playlist. I'd been vibing to "That's What Makes Me Love You" since it dropped earlier in the month, so I figured I'd like the album, but I didn't expect to immediately hold it so close.
Lydia Night is truly a songwriter that you'll be hearing from time and time again as she rises through the pop world. She has an incredible ability to paint a story plainly right before your eyes. Her voice if floating and has a pleasantly retro feeling that makes her distinct in today's pop and alt landscapes.
Lydia writes masterfully about falling in love in a way that makes me love love. She writes with the same painstaking detail that everyone uses to write about heartbreak, which really is what sets these songs so high. This track won me over with the specificity of the opening line, "When I wear the bikini that I bought when I was fourteen / Thought the summer, I learn a little more about ya." The track tells the story of falling for someone in tiny moments and having a relationship in subtext but wanting it to graduate into something more.
"When's the time I'm gonna say I love you / And know what it really means to let it seep through? / I'm so tired of soaking up the subtleties / But I'm never giving up on you"
This is another really sweet love song about the person you love being home and struggling when you do have to be away from them. What get me about this song is the chorus hook lyric, "Sleepin' in your jeans but you're only in my dreams."
"Nowhere" is a song about achieving your dreams and everything you ever wanted and having it never be good enough. It's a song about being frustrated you can never be satisfied with yourself or live in the moment. Looking back, Lydia realizes that it's the in-between moments, the journey, that's really the best of it. In the first verse, she sings about wishing for a car for so long and then getting it and being irritated that it's not the right color. In the second verse, she sings about being thrown off by a girl who she sees as so much prettier than her, but it makes her realize she still wouldn't be happy if she had perfect skin because she doesn't appreciate her body now that she always longed for. Bodies are so messy that I loved the acknowledgment here. It's a reminder for us glass half empty people to realize how far we really have come and to enjoy that.
"Think we had it all playin' truth or dare / Layin' underneath the stars sayin' life's not fair / Thought we'd have it all when we're millionaires / Well we made a bunch of money just to go nowhere"
This song just feels good. I rarely fall head over heels for an upbeat song, but this song stole my whole heart. It's about the ups and downs of a relationship but ultimately being secure in your love and connection with this other person. It's about being able to have your bad, dramatic moments and bounce back just as quick, and the lyrical imagery is extremely vivid.
"Late nights, you're crying on the floor / Don't know what I said that for / Days pass, now all we do is laugh / Screaming in the grocery store / That's what makes me love you"
"Step 9" deviates from the reconciling love themes of the album, though not entirely because this track faces a different kind of love. This song discusses the damage that having a parent dealing with alcoholism can inflict on a kid's self esteem. The story is so artfully drawn, and in the chorus, she references that all the damage can't be undone just because someone has reached step 9. For those who don't know, step 9 is a reference to Alcoholics Anonymous where at this stage in the program the person is tasked with making amends. Lydia uses this song to talk about how these apologies can feel so hollow, especially when they're expected to erase the past.
"I don't wanna hear all about how you're doin' just fine / And you don't get to say it's alright 'cause you're on step nine / And I still hear your voice, it's in my ears / Gotta remind myself it's not sincere / I wanna trust it, but it just won't work / Cause now I really know just what I'm worth"
I have been super super excited for Lizzy's album for the longest time because the singles have been absolutely incredible. She's been on such a meteoric rise lately, and this album will only keep her heading up. Aside from the singles, which I've covered on my blog and YouTube channel, I had so many new favorite tracks that are spun with Lizzy's heartfelt and quirky lyricism. The album has a crystal clear narrative following the end of one relationship and the grief from that that clouds all of her future romantic endeavors. If you haven't seen it, Lizzy also made a short film of stitched together music videos to visually tell the story of the album as well that's available to watch for free on YouTube.
I loved this one so much that I immediately had to get out my guitar and play it. In this track, Lizzy builds this perfect rainy car moment with a crush that feels like a movie. Then, in the next section, she describes going inside with this person and physically connecting. But in the third stanza, it's revealed that it's all just a fantasy, a dream love interest conjured up by the car and the rain. It's a sense of longing that's so incredibly palpable and relatable. It's also amazing to listen to her build this nuanced illusion and then shatter it.
"But it's not real / And you don't exist / And I can't recall the last time I was kissed"
Laura Elliot has been one of my favorite rising artists in the indie pop scene since I saw her open for Ella Jane in December. I actually watched the entire show standing next to Lizzy, so it was cool to get to hear their collaboration. This song is a strange illusion, horror movie like song. She paints the picture of this surreal, off kilter world that seems to mimic the nausea inducing feelings of new love.
"Maybe I'm weird or maybe I'm off the wall / But maybe it's weirder not to have dreamed at all"
This song is completely unafraid. Lizzy sings about loving someone who already has a girlfriend and secretly wishing that they would just choose her instead. It's a short song, a single wish, but it's bold and brash and fits into Lizzy's concept of seeing this entire relationship arc painted out like a movie.
"Please, make me laugh and kiss me back / And do everything you want to"
This song immediately captured my attention with the opening lines, "I get high out the window / And I don't tell my mom / I mix you with my vodka." It created such a clear, striking image that I knew I'd have to keep listening. Lizzy has compared heartbreak to little deaths before, and this song draws the metaphor towards being shot. In the song, she kicks herself for being the one who was broken up with instead of reacting first. She laments how she has to be the heartbroken one when she had plenty of qualms with the relationship herself. The song opens up spectacularly with clanging drums and symbols that articulate her heartbreak.
"I tell strangers online / That we broke up"
"What a fucked up reality show / Was it the fame or the lack thereof / I just don't don't know"
"Orange Show Speedway" is the final track on the album and also the credits song for the movie, which makes sense because the song feels like the ending credits to an indie movie. It's the perfect closing track, which is always so important to nail. Sonically, it hits all the right notes of build and release, and lyrically, it's interesting as the track wraps up all the themes of the song as she returns to where it all began and confronts it all three years later.
"I fell in love at the Orange Show Speedway / It didn't look like this three years ago"
Rx by Role Model
This is the album of the week that I'm not entirely sold on. I've seen Role Model's name floating around for a while and I could not get away from the "respectfully, I think about you sexually" sound on TikTok that's blowing up because it's ostensibly about Emma Chamberlain. But I'd never actually bothered to listen to his music. That is until last night when I found out one of my favorite writers, Willa Bennett, profiled him. The pieces of the story she reposted had me intrigued enough to listen to the album.
And I have mixed feelings. Role Model can tell a story. And he has an interesting sonic vibe and perspective. I'm just not totally sold on the stories he's choosing to tell at the moment. So while I'm glad that I listened to it, I am definitely not going to come out and endorse the album. I think I liked Role Model, or Tucker Pillsbury, more reading the article than I did while listening to the album. Things as unabashed as a track called "Masturbation Song" was just personally too much for me. I do love that he writes all his own songs, though, and I the way he relates thing through his lyrics. But there's potential there that's worth paying attention to as it refines (and Willa's article is well worth your time to read).
Despite my reservations, "Rx", the closing track has won me over for sure.
The song is about falling in love and having that magically fix everything. While that feeling is very real, it never lasts and it's never healthy. But it's a nice thought, and he captures it in the most pure and genuine way. While unlike Tucker I do not get high every day nor have I ever gotten high, I did immediately relate to the sentiment and sarcasm in the opening verse, and the song has found its way on to my playlist.
"It's the ways I'm medicating / It's the apps for meditating / It's the way they never work / It's the high I'm always chasing / It's the friends I'm never making / It's the people that I've hurt / But I don't need therapy / Just someone who's there for me"
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