Alessia Cara Four Pink Walls EP Review
Label: Def Jam Records
Released: 28th August 2015
In One Line: Instant coming of age classic
Favourite Track: I’m Yours
Favourite Lyric: We are like blades of grass/we come to prime and in time we just wither away.
Newspapers and mainstream music websites have used all of the same terminology to describe this artist: ‘rising star’ or ‘breakthrough act,’ to name but a few; however Alessia Cara isn’t just another Rihanna or Taylor Swift, she’s different and special in more ways than one.
Virtually coming out of nowhere, Canada born Alessia was signed to Def Jam record label before releasing her first single ‘Here,’ and debut EP ‘Four Pink Walls’ this year.
At just 19 years of age, and only a couple of months younger than me, her music redefines the chronicles of teenage life, and is refreshingly relatable for people like me who are reaching the end of theirs.
I first heard her song ‘Here’ on BBC Radio 1 whilst driving home from work one evening. I was meant to go to a party that I really didn’t want to go to, and the lyrics “but really I would rather be at home all by myself,” were a sign if I ever did see one, so that’s exactly what I did, listening to ‘Here’ on repeat in my room instead.
Cara, full name Alessia Caracciolo, started uploading covers to her YouTube channel at a young age, which I really recommend you check out. It’s a story as old as the millennial internet; young talent uploads videos; young talent gets picked up by record label; young talent becomes dizzyingly famous; young talent pelts eggs at houses (Justin *cough* Bieber.) Fame can often threaten to destroy the innocence and rawness of homemade covers, but Cara still uploads videos regularly to her channel, even directing her own music videos for the songs on her EP, with only a selfie stick and her younger brother as props. In her video for ‘Seventeen,’ shot in a hotel room, she abandons all notions of maturity and grown-upness that comes as extra baggage with fame, and behaves like any over excited teenager would; jumping on the king sized bed and lying in the bathtub. If you didn’t want to be her best friend before, you will after watching these videos.
After the success of ‘Here,’ me and a hoard of other keen listeners were counting down the days until her release of ‘Four Pink Walls.’ The EP features five tracks, including ‘Here,’ and was officially released August 28th. The first song, ‘Seventeen,’ is a reflection upon the magic and madness of teenage years, about wanting to grow up so fast but when you finally do, and realise adulthood is not all it’s cracked up to be, you wish you could “freeze the time at seventeen.” Lyrically wise beyond her years, she never claims to have the answers to everything, it’s very much a ‘sing-as-she-thinks’ song, with that virgin R n B beat that sadly got lost somewhere in the 90s.
The second track ‘Here’ has repeatedly been described as an “anthem for the introvert,” which Cara wrote about a “party that I hated.” In a FOMO generation where everything has to be Instagrammed and snapchatted to show everyone what a totally awesome time you’re having, ‘Here’ makes me feel like it’s totally fine if I’d rather sit at home with my cat then watch drunk strangers roll about on the floor. The song is built around the Isaac Hayes sample that powered Portishead’s Glory Box, which, if you didn’t know any better, sounds like a drunken and slurring man in the background that Cara is trying to ignore; but from either perspective it works fabulously well.
Third track ‘Outlaws’ is an ode to everyone’s best friend and partner in crime, and illustrates that kind of young friendship that is built on shared experiences and generally having the best of fun. It’s also wildly optimistic and nostalgic, comparing their friendship to that of Bonnie and Clyde, and declaring that “you’ll never face a judge without me.” It has a quirky almost jazz like rhythm, which makes you want to click your fingers, sway drastically and do-wop in public.
Fourth track ‘I’m Yours’ displays the immortality of young love, and all the awkwardness, insecurity and head-over-heels infatuation that comes with it. The topic of a experiencing new love is very Taylor Swift, but also far more honest, because not everyone gets to dance in a storm with their love interest as a teenager, okay Taylor? The track is adorably naïve, and we can all relate to sitting by the phone waiting for the boy to call (or text, or like your Instagram picture or whatever.) But again, the lyrics are wise, insisting that she’s “had her heart broken before,” and is wary about getting into a new relationship, something people of all ages can relate to in one way or another.
‘Four Pink Walls’ is the final track on the EP, but in no way does it feel like an ending. If ‘Here’ was an anthem for the introverts, then ‘Four Pink Walls’ is the anthem for the dreamer, dreaming of a life behind your bedroom walls. The beat has Hip Hop essences, and the lyrics go at a million miles per hour as the teenage brain often does. She’s proud of what she has achieved, but she is also extremely humbled in her lyrics, confessing “those four pink walls, now I kind of miss them,” a refreshing attitude different from the rapper bravado that often comes with the Hip Hop and R ‘n’ B scene.
I’m no music mogul, but there’s not a lot bad I can say about this EP, or Cara herself. The only criticism is that it wasn’t long enough to satisfy me, but Cara assures fans that her debut album ‘Know It All’ will be released later this year, so I don’t have long to wait. As for Cara, as she goofs around in front of the camera, I can’t help thinking she’d be awesome to chat to *subtly drops hint.* Refreshing and achingly honest, this is some of the realest music I’ve heard in a long ass time, and is the coming of age classic I’ve been searching for my whole adolescent life.