Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Allie X – Glam!

The flossy flossy…


David Moore: ’80s pastiche that sounds like the sincerest form of flattery: an outtake from 2015’s Collxtion I that Allie X wrote back in 2013. Her insistence to co-producer Mike Wise that it sound like Belinda Carlisle seems to have helped get those chunky synths and dorky chimes on board, but the real magic is in Allie X’s vocal: that good old-fashioned whoa-oa-oa-oa on the chorus, which they waste no time throwing out as an earworm, and a bridge where she really does get pretty close to heaven (a place on earth).

Leah Isobel: “Glam!” was meant to be on Allie X’s 2015 debut, and its sound is a throwback to that era in every way — the chorus is “Hello” with less bite, the manic lyrics are “Prime” with less darkness, the evocations of family left behind are “Good” with less pathos. She’s moved beyond this Gaga pastiche in recent years, and I’d argue it’s for the better, but I loved Collxtion I fiercely in a way that I don’t love a lot of music now. It’s nice to be reminded of my younger self sometimes.

Will Adams: Had this been released in 2015, would it have felt too late to the trend of sparkly, ’80s-indebted pop? Thankfully, that question doesn’t matter, because “Glam!” is out in 2021, bursting with more hooks and energy than anything else right now. A year of isolation and uncertainty has numbed me a lot, but the glee which with Allie X asks the spotlight, “Love me forever!” sends a jolt of optimism through me. “Glam!” is in excellent company with songs that evoke that same rush, including Betty Who, Bonnie McKee and Wynter Gordon. It’s the sound of my dreams: dazzling electropop that serves as a love letter to a life you don’t have (yet) but can pretend to for three and a half blissful minutes.

Hazel Southwell: Expected to hate this because I’ve never quite tuned in to Allie X’s pop, started getting quite into it during the intro and then just started thinking about how much I wanted to listen to Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob era by about 30 seconds in. Post-chorus and I’d kind of bought back in, until I realised it’s every time she sings I just find the whole thing insincere and try-hard, which is the problem I always have. I don’t know if glam can be precision engineered, you know? It has to be a little messy, otherwise it’s just editorial.

Katherine St Asaph: I was ready to be underwhelmed. The word “glam” has been thoroughly co-opted by copywriters and no longer evokes glamour, nor rockstar swagger, but YM selling stick-on body rhinestones to 12-year-olds. Its appearing so insistently as the title suggests dressing up as a lark, which suggests dressing up as a pop star for a lark, which is kind of why Allie X has stalled at “solidly decent underdog” for now 15 years. But damned if this isn’t the densest ball of ebullient pop hooks from Madonna to The Fame, every one somehow twice as big as the one it imitates.

Alfred Soto: The synth sparkles are the producer’s idea of IT’S THE EIGHTIES, and when Allie X shouts, “give it up!” I hear Madonna’s High Reagan Era ebullience. Like the most overbearing of its era, “Glam!” is weakest when it insists on being HAPPY.

Thomas Inskeep: Sounds like the theme from a Netflix spoof of ’80s “I’m gonna make it big!” movies; the craft is too on-the-mark, and the snark is too pronounced for it to work.

Austin Nguyen: I don’t care what score it will get on Rotten Tomatoes or how bathetic the arguments are (okay, wait, maybe a little); whatever dumb corny coming-of-age movie Allie X is soundtracking, I’m in. “Glam!” is obviously for the freeze-framing epilogue, the golden ribbon that packages each character’s success 10 years down the line into a montage of stills and subtitles — simple, compact, easy to gush over. (The protagonist sells out the Madison Square Garden before embarking on a world tour and marrying the boy next door, her childhood best friend starts her own clothing line and goes onto New York Fashion Week acclaim where they occasionally meet up, you get the idea.) This is unabashed jump-on-the-bed hairbrush pop that glances in the rear view mirror at outgrown roots (“I left my mother”), but belts and revs into the infinities of the future. Anything is possible, each word a wish that materializes with the first breath: “Love me forever,” “I could run this town,” “I’ll be the girl / Who changes the world.” The word-painting bridge (which, when done right, I am rarely not a fan of — surprised it’s taken me this long to mention it here) is a boundless rocket-tailed ascent toward the stars to the point where the titular caps lock and exclamation point could be an understatement; hell, even the synths have an adrenaline shiver rushing through them. If I were un-quarantined, had a stable sense of confidence, and already knew what I wanted to do with my life; then “Glam!” might have just been a somewhat vacuous yet efficient teen movie song that segued into the end credits. But right now — still stuck in the same “suburbs,” scrambling in the shambles of finals week, looking around at what everyone else is doing because I become Chidi Anagonye when any Life Decision is in my periphery — it’s not a guilty pleasure; it’s pure and galaxy-sized.

Vikram Joseph: Allie X has always felt like a bit of a pop shapeshifter, experimenting in different subgenres with alacrity and rarely standing still for two successive songs. This comes with the drawback of her music lacking a distinctive personality, but on “Glam!” she’s having so much fun that I doubt this bothers her. Glittery, slightly featureless ’80s stadium-pop of the sort you’d hear blaring out of Kristen Stewart’s car window in Adventureland, it’s made for summer and parties but sounds a little lost in the bleary late-winter solitude of this endless goddamn March, like a macaw on a grey North Sea beach.

Joshua Lu: Did you find Cape God to be a little too moody? Are you pining for the bright electropop of Collxtion I? Have no fear, Allie X is here with a song quite literally from 2013, newly released as part of a vinyl repress of that project. All of the old Allie-isms are here, with straightforward synthpop coupled with catchy word salad carefully assembled into spunky lyricism. Yet the charm of revisiting this aesthetic, and the vague lyrical tale of her leaving Canada for LA to kickstart her career, nearly a decade later is undeniable, operating not just as a fun throwback but also a reminder of how far she’s come.

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