Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Four Pink Walls | Alessia Cara

Inhabitants of the Internet, meet your newest overnight sensation.

Nineteen-year-old Alessia Cara has paved her own way to fame from the comfort of her own home. She found initial popularity online via acoustic covers on YouTube. The name of her debut extended play is inspired by her childhood bedroom. The cover for the extended play was shot with an iPhone. All but one of her music videos were filmed at home with a selfie stick and a gritty webcam. And of course, her mainstream breakthrough single is all about the desire to leave a party and go home.

Never have I related to a song more than I have to "Here." Far too often do we hear the typical drugs, sex, and party anthems, but not enough do we get songs for those of us who prefer late night drives with a few friends or solo Netflix binges on Saturday nights. "But really I would rather be at home all by myself / Not in this room with people who don't even care about my well being," she croons over a sultry horns, sustained keys, and a half-time beat. "Four Pink Walls" also thrives on throwback R&B vibes and taps into the coming-of-age, dreaming-chasing teenage mentality: "Oh, the universe aligned with what I wanted all this time / I knew there was a life behind those four pink walls."

Cara told USA Today's Sara Moniuszko in the August 31 edition of the paper that "it's hard to stick to one genre," which is evident from the rest of the tracks on this EP. Peppy drum machines and pitch-shifted vocals on "Seventeen" draw comparisons between Cara and fellow teen idol Lorde, and the easy-going doo-wop tendencies of "Outlaws" radiate some of the same influences as Meghan Trainor's Title, but Cara's voice molds to each style and holds the five songs together as one suite. Standout track "I'm Yours" embeds that voice in a lively production that is easily the most radio-friendly of the bunch. While "Here," "Seventeen," and "Four Pink Walls" are reflective, "I'm Yours" is the necessary radiant love song to balance things out: "Because I've had my heart broken before, and I promised I would never let me hurt anymore / But I tore down my walls and opened my doors and made room for one / So baby, I'm yours."

It's this type of infectious production, raw talent, and striking relatability that turns a teen singer into a massive star. Carefree party songs may be great sellers, but Alessia Cara proves once again that introspection is equally, if not more, powerful. With Four Pink Walls, she has kicked new life into the ever-popular 'alt-pop/R&B fusion' genre of music; the genre hasn't taken such an optimistic, lively form in a while. This EP is just a sample of her debut album, titled Know-It-All, to come, and if the album comes anywhere close to the quality of this release, Cara has a very bright future ahead of her.

Four Pink Walls is out now under Def Jam Recordings.

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