For those who have been following Madison Beer’s career since its early days, even from afar, the release of her debut album has had a long time coming. The singer-songwriter’s first ever single ‘Melodies‘ was introduced to the world back in 2013 — and what a different world it was. In contrast with the summer-y, euphoric teen-pop vibes exuded in Madison’s initial work, her music became more introspective and explorative once she parted ways with her label to pursue her true artistic intentions.
On February 26th, the music industry was able to witness the material result of Madison Beer’s artistic and personal flourishing throughout the past few years in Life Support is a 17-track project with no collaborations, where the singer co-wrote every track and co-produced all but one — which is surely uncommon for current day, mainstream pop stars who are aiming for the moon. Upon first listen, it’s easily noticeable how carefully curated the album was: from the seamless transition between tracks to the small production gags added in each song, it’s quite evident that the singer and her team had a full-fledged vision of what the project was meant to convey and transmit, and is at no point mistakable for a shallow collection of singles.
A proper reflection of everything that makes Life Support a work worth of highlighting can be found in ‘Stained Glass,’ arguably one of the strongest releases in pop of 2020 — lyrically, it’s a well-executed metaphorical explanation of the damages that hateful actions can cause on mental health, specially for someone who has grown up under the spotlight in the age of social media: “My skin is made of glass // But apparently it’s stained // ‘Cause you notice all the cracks // But can’t look inside my pain.” Production-wise, it’s explosive and theatrical — featuring drums, a relentless guitar, and the sound of breaking glass that take the listener on an intense, heartfelt ride inspired by the likes of Radiohead and Tame Impala. The fact that this was the first promotional single chosen to represent the album is no coincidence — it is the flashiest showcase of everything that makes Madison Beer a multi-talented star and a captivating personality.
The sonic atmosphere created for Life Support is certainly its shining star. From beginning to end, there’s a cinematographic feel to the project that makes it unavoidable for the listener to wonder how it would serve as a visual album. This is partially owed to the outstanding arrangements, in which Madison’s powerful voice joins a plethora of instruments to create a seemingly endless perfect harmony that shapes the album’s natural flow. The voice effects and use of vocoder, often criticized by those who believe they cheapen musical work, are positively ever-present, contributing to the other-worldly sound of the project. Cohesiveness, contrary to what seems to be popular belief, isn’t necessarily a positive factor in music — more than once it finds its roots in a lack of originality and fear of experimentation. This isn’t the case for Life Support: while there is a clear axis in which the tracks rotate around, each song is a unique ingredient that makes the recipe work. The ambitiousness behind this album is clear, but the realization of its potential is what makes it a listen worth of repeating over and over again for maximum pleasure.
A substantial factor in the success of Life Support relies on its unapologetic youthfulness. While Madison has shied away from the bubbly teen-pop that once defined her, the coming-of-age lyrical content on this album shows she’s still learning from her failed experiences with love and the pain in solace. This genuineness in her own words help build an instant connection with the listener — even if we’re only aware of her hardships through the music, the passion in her voice is enough to convince us she’s dealing with the universal, troublesome consequences of teenage love. Ultimately, there’s never a feeling of misplaced pretentiousness in the songwriting, even with such masterful production. Life Support officially breaks the barrier between Madison Beer and the public, letting the world know who her artistic persona is — and exactly why it stands out from the crowd.
If there’s anything that Madison Beer has taught the world through her music, is to never underestimate her. Life Support is evidence of the singer, songwriter and producer’s utmost potential to create conceptual art that’s compelling and forward-thinking — and if she continues on this path of self-discovery with confidence in her vision and abilities, there’s no doubt that the possibilities of what she can add to the musical landscape are endless.
Featured Image Credit: Amber Asaly/Epic Records.