Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Alessia Cara – Trust My Lonely

She’s back! Quake in fear, adjectives!


Will Rivitz: Alessia Cara’s upcoming second album is titled The Pains of Growing, and, though growing is certainly painful, it nonetheless tends to inspire better music than staying childish. Case in point: the album’s second single, a bizarre trainwreck of funhouse barrel organ and 8-bit bleeps which, when combined with Cara’s jarringly smoky delivery and a “whoa-oh” section I’d foolishly believed we’d left behind once “alternative” went out of pop vogue, sounds like it was cobbled together by an eight-year-old.

Jonathan Bradley: Nominalization, Henry Hitchings wrote in The New York Times a few years back, describes “a word we are used to encountering as a verb or adjective that has been transmuted into a noun.” It irritates some, but it’s not intrinsically bad. Using the technique, he says — as Cara does with “Trust My Lonely” — “gives an impression of freshness, by avoiding an everyday word. To some, ‘I have a solve’ will sound jauntier and more pragmatic than ‘I have a solution.’.” Ah. Well, at least someone has made a kind of attempt to inject liveliness into this drag of a song. Too bad this neologism was condemned as soon as it was coined to be forced into a baffling slant rhyme with “for me.” (It is not prescriptivism to prefer that novel phrasing be used well.) On “Scars to Your Beautiful” — another instance of pop nominalization — Cara’s lyric played with the semantic distinction separating the possessive “your” and the existential “you’re,” facilitating a slippage between them in service of her theme. “Trust My Lonely” sounds stupid.

Stephen Eisermann: It’s cute, I guess. I fear that Alessia’s team (and maybe Alessia, herself) don’t understand that she’s allowed to grow up and mature with her audience, because this comes across a bit juvenile. It’s modern sounding, but I can’t help but expect to hear this on Radio Disney and… nowhere else, really. 

Taylor Alatorre: I would believe Alessia’s proclamations more if she had the courage to ditch the less necessary rhythmic ornaments when the chorus rolls around. There’s an appropriately liberatory feel to those chords, but their impact is diminished by the sharp hi-hat sounds stepping all over my eardrums. Where this does succeed is in doing something halfway interesting with a reggae-type beat — a rarity in pop these days — as well as writing about a familiar topic in a fresh and homespun way, such that the title doesn’t anger me as much as it should.

Alfred Soto: Alessia Cara has the chops for a career if she didn’t choose material that sounds focus grouped to the nanosecond. Coating Magic! and Gwen Stefani with a deluxe-sounding electrosheen ain’t gonna cut it.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Producers Pop & Oak go Barnum & Bailey, setting up a whimsical stage for Cara’s one woman show. The piece is sparse despite its busyness: cowbells clink, arcade synths flicker, and a clownish vocal sample disorients. Cara’s still aiming for a precociousness that can be traced back to “Here,” but the lyrics and instrumentation on “Trust My Lonely” make a caricature out of her.

Edward Okulicz: I really like this reggae skank when Tove Styrke walks it triumphantly, but Cara seems gauche and clumsy, as if watching her feet the whole time. I could forgive the silly use of “lonely” as a noun if it weren’t in service of rhyming with something just as ill-formed.

Katherine St Asaph: I would really love to like Alessia Cara’s music in practice as well as theory.

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