Monday, July 20, 2015

Not An Apology | Bea Miller

Sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter Bea Miller has done what we all thought was nearly impossible: she has made a career out of her time on the ill-fated American leg of The X Factor. Before Miller, only girl group Fifth Harmony managed to do it. Many may mistake her as the newest product of the Walt Disney Company: She signed with Hollywood Records (once home to former Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff, and Selena Gomez, and still attached to Demi Lovato) and gained traction in the past year with younger audiences via Radio Disney promotional pushes and opening gigs for Lovato's Demi World Tour. She may fit the bill of a Disney star, but she actually paved her own way to the spot she is in now.

The lightweight lyrics and pasteurized pop-rock haze of songs like "Rich Kids" and "Young Blood" put her in the prime position for a teen-pop superstar (see: "After school I always had to work / It kinda left me feeling like a jerk / 'Cause I never got to talk to the guy I liked / And that ain't right," "We've got young blood, can't destroy us / We make our own luck in this world"), and not much on Not an Apology shakes her from that status. But we have to remember that she was thirteen when she made her X Factor debut and that she was under the age of sixteen when most of this material was curated; not everybody can be, nor does everybody need to be, a Lorde-esque, hyper-mature figure. For what she is marketing herself as, she is right on par.

The acoustic "Force of Nature" reveals that her light little voice bears resemblance to Echosmith's Sydney Sierota with the right inflection, but more often than not, she is ripping through her lyrics with enough power to be heard above her rugged production. Most of her products here are licked with a slight rock edge and offer some better scraps of lyrics than "Rich Kids." She employs her strongest rock influences on back-to-back tracks "I Dare You" and "Paper Doll," in addition to "This is Not an Apology" and "Enemy Fire." Lyrically, she sticks to broken relationships: She provokes he who imprisons her ("Put me in a cage, lock me in a room / Throw away the key, I dare you"), channels Katy Perry's "Ur So Gay" ("You're such a chick it makes me feel like a dude"), and proclaims her independence ("I'm not your paper doll / Can't make me what you want / You just build me up to tear me down / Enough's enough / Go, leave me alone"). Nothing special, but definitely sufficient.

With lyrics that appeal to younger audiences and productions that aren't far from Avril Lavigne's circa The Best Damn Thing (minus "Fire N Gold" and "Young Blood," which are full-fledged pop anthems), Miller is off to a strong start with Not an Apology. Although she has developed a quirky image through her social media outlets, she has yet to develop a defining personality through her music - a common downfall for fresh teenage faces and baseline pop-rock acts alike. This would be a bigger problem if she had pushed out bland material, but luckily, this album offers more than its fair share of enjoyable tunes.

Not an Apology will be released on July 24, 2015 under Hollywood Records and Syco Music.

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