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Review: by WILLOW

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

<COPINGMECHANISM> is the fifth studio album by WILLOW, an American singer, who gained immense popularity on her previous album Lately I feel EVERYTHING. <COPINGMECHANISM>  departs from the compelling rawness of her fourth album and attempts a dark expression of emotion.

The opener ‘<maybe> it’s my fault’ gives an appropriate sense of the album, with beautiful production and an intensity of switch ups. Followed by the urgency of ‘Falling Endlessly’’s introduction, the album falls into the first of many Disney channel pop-punk lulls; not building to anywhere and leaving a lot out. ‘curious/furious’ starts from that low point so is able to build with a charming tune. A Paramore-esque track, with a variety of sonic textures that brings an enjoyable dance inducing chorus.

WILLOW’s masterful vocal control is apparent through all the tracks and her melodies are a confident presence. On ‘WHY?’ we see the first of harmonic vocal sections that continue through the album that aim for operatic Queen but land at 2000s Panic! At the Disco. This song just needs a bit more push from WILLOW. She’s discussing uncomfortable emotions that rarely come across past the lyrics.

For the title track, there is a slightly more stripped back sound with a pop-punk driving drum-line and throwback 2000s rhythms. It falls in urgency over the bridge and the low energy continues into the modern introduction of ‘Split’. Unfortunately the urgency is lost completely here. The track lacks consistency and fails to grab attention. Desperate to gain it back ‘hover like a GODDESS’ finally feels cathartic for WILLOW with a high explosion of energy. The strange mix of 2000s pop-punk and choral harmonies does becomes most jarring here though.

‘ur a <stranger>’ aims towards one of Poppy’s songs and is much heavier than the other tracks, WILLOW’s pure vocals blending well. The vocal harmonies seem more appropriate, building to a shouted section that finally adds to the sound from her past album. Sadly, this screaming continues onto ‘Perfectly Not Close To Me (ft. Yves Tumor)’ which flies by like 80s driving music and is easily forgettable.

‘No Control’ again shows her great vocal melodies, though not fully supported by the mix; disappointing as there is passion and eagerness driving it. Closing the album is ‘BATSHIT!’ which finally rejoices in urgency. It would have really benefitted to see her voice soar with a final chorus, or simply a stronger instrumental finish like Beabadoobee’s ‘Cologne’.

The shortness and faults of the tracks leaves with a sense of dissatisfaction in what was meant to be a cathartic release for WILLOW.

Image “Willow Smith – Wireless Festival – #L7Upfront” by ElSevenUK is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.