Madison Beer’s first decade in the pop sphere has been eventful. She went viral – in that innocent, no-frills 2012-era way – as a 12-year-old when Justin Bieber bigged up an Etta James cover she posted to YouTube; a record deal and management by Scooter Braun soon followed. Intrusive tabloid attention and pitfalls of fame weren’t far behind: the New York-born artist was diagnosed with PTSD following leaked explicit images when she was just a teenager. She has been candid in her responses and how to use her platform to enrich and educate her audience, and earlier this year at 24, she released a memoir The Half of It to fill in the gaps of her story.
Since that breakout moment, however, the music has felt scant. A smattering of singles aside, we’ve had just two full bodies of work, 2018 EP ‘As She Pleases’ and her 2021 debut album ‘Life Support’, in that period. A penchant for diaristic lyrics aside – which anchored ‘Life Support’ – Beer’s sound has been frustratingly non-distinct: everything from whispery-pop to shiny radio-rock has been employed to surround her pristine vocals.
On ‘Silence Between Songs’, there’s an effort to rectify that and to allow some of her core influences to reveal themselves. Speaking to Lana Del Rey in Interview Magazine in June, Beer says that she’s currently in the best place “mentally and emotionally”, and feels “confident in the music”. As she should: we have something of a signature sound for much of ‘Silence Between Songs’, a clear nod to Tame Impala’s psych-rock as well as swooning ‘60s pop and rock.
‘Home To Another One’, the standout single, is so well-made and so direct in its execution, that it’d feel at home on Kevin Parker’s ‘Currents’. Opener ‘Spinnin’ – which Lana earmarked as her favourite song – follows Alexandra Savior into that lush, retro-infused sound, Beer’s voice still possessing a remarkable clarity. ‘Showed Me (How I Fell in Love with You)’ interpolates The Turtles’ 1968 version of ‘You Showed Me’, first performed by The Byrds, and as lesser interpolations of old hits continue to flood the market, this should be a lesson in how it’s done.
Yet there’s one too many generic, string-laden ballads, and a stop-start feel to the record, a frustration given how enlivening its highs are. But if anything, it feels like a record Beer has been desperate to make since the very beginning: she’s come a long way in her time in the spotlight, but now we’re finally getting to know her true sound.
- Release date: September 15, 2023
- Record label: Epic Records/Sing It Loud