LA-based indie-pop artist Ashlynn Malia is gearing up to unveil her debut LP, MALIA, on February 2nd via Julian Records. The album features seven tracks that navigate the landscapes of unrequited love, self-discovery, and embracing one’s true self.
Before delving into the intricacies of each track, let’s take a moment to applaud Ashlynn Malia’s multifaceted talents. The pinnacle of this LP is reached when her vocals and lyrics resound with crystal clarity, showcasing a confidence that is occasionally overshadowed by production choices that, at times, do her a disservice. Whether intentional or not, this stylistic ambiguity may leave the listener questioning the artist’s intent.
While MALIA lacks the seamless cohesion of a singular narrative, certain tracks, including “Avalanche,” “Cool Girl,” “Villain,” “Midas,” and “Dying To Miss Out” form a harmonious puzzle. With their distinct synergy, these pieces stand out as the LP’s shining moments.
Yet, the album’s cohesiveness weakens on tracks such as “Feels So Good” and “Nobody Else,” as the pull of mainstream pop risks overshadowing Malia’s unique voice and the raw essence of her lyrics. These compositions, while pleasant, struggle to measure up against their more resonant counterparts.
“Avalanche” emerges as a powerful opening punch, with a dramatic spoken word introduction setting the stage for a journey of liberation from an oppressive relationship. The UK Garage production mirrors the lyrical themes of guilt, anxiety, and the tumultuous emotions accompanying departure.
Track 2, “Cool Girl,” unveils a dreamy, ethereal side to Ashlynn, its melody resembling a haunting lullaby. Delving into themes of disposability, unrequited emotions, and a yearning for genuine recognition, this track showcases her emotional depth as an artist.
“Midas” radiates confidence and sex appeal while unmistakably showcasing Malia’s versatility as a singer-songwriter. Despite being a milder track than its counterparts, it exudes a gentle, sexy vibe, providing a delightful reprieve from the other songs. “Villain,” on the other hand, embarks on a sonic adventure, transitioning from an acoustic, bare-bones beginning to an intensified production that mirrors the raw realization of one’s identity. The track masterfully explores obsessive pursuits and self-reflection.
“Feels So Good” may carry a sunny demeanor, but its lyrical depth pales in comparison to the album’s other offerings. While Ashlynn’s robust vocals provide a comforting refrain, the lyrics fall short of the thoughtful introspection found in other tracks. Similarly, “Nobody Else” echoes a catchy sentiment but lacks the profound rawness that defines the LP. With echoes of Dua Lipa’s style, the track, while enjoyable, doesn’t quite capture the depth exhibited elsewhere in the album.
The LP’s concluding track, “Dying To Miss Out” a satiny collab with producer-guitarist Kim Tee (Dominic Fike, Clairo), encapsulates the album’s emotional rollercoaster, offering a poignant realization of self, embracing the ongoing journey of self-discovery, and acknowledging the need for separation from sources of pain.
Overall, MALIA showcases the unfolding of a promising artist’s multifaceted exploration into the complexities of human exploration. While some tracks may stray into more familiar territories, the album’s raw authenticity and moments of brilliance make it a compelling introduction to the evolving soundscape of indie-pop. I’m excited to witness Ashlynn Malia’s artistic journey unfold and curious to hear how her sound evolves from here.
Cover photo by Austin Ciezsko