Phoenix-based songwriter Sydney Sprague places her songwriting persona at the forefront of her sophomore album, her debut in 2021 garnered widespread acclaim, focusing on one of the oldest and most universally relatable themes: heartache. Written during the pandemic lockdown, initially intended for her ears alone, this album might just be one of those rare gems that allow you to get close to the artist’s heart and thoughts.
Following the praise of her debut, the question looms: “can she replicate her success with this new album?” Well, if you have an affinity for beautifully crafted songs that effortlessly blend pop and emo influences a la Fall Out Boy, coupled with the guitar-driven pop stylings reminiscent of artists like Avril Lavigne and somehow Billie Eilish, then the answer is a resounding “yes”.
The album kicks off with the track “If I’m Honest”, where at first, you’re greeted with intriguing sounds that make you question whether they’re voices or glitches of something else. Then, the song takes off, surprising you with a blend of alternative rock and pop. With Sydney’s live and fragile vocals carrying you away on a dreamy raincloud.
Next, Sydney reveals her indie rock side with “Smiley Face”. It’s a song with a catchy lyrical melody of “I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re fine”. Following that is “Nobody Knows Anything”, which seamlessly continues the vibe from the previous track, but then with a slower tempo and a reverberating riff complemented by electronic sound effects.
The final track, “Sketching Lessons”, feels like a letter penned to a younger version of oneself. It encapsulates the essence of the album, where you’re not entirely happy but not entirely sad either. Instead, there’s a sense of reassurance, a feeling of quietude.
While the album may not entirely align with my personal preferences, I can’t deny that it’s brimming with stunning pop hooks and lyrics that will resonate with many. The soft, vulnerable vocals of the singer add a unique intimacy to the songs, giving them a bittersweet quality. This album undeniably possesses the power to connect with a wide audience and evoke profound emotions, and that’s something I can certainly appreciate in an album.