Eight years after gaining mainstream attention for bubblegum-pop track “Melodies,” industry starlet Madison Beer’s long-awaited debut album “Life Support” finally dropped on Feb. 26.
Cultivated in the era of the YouTube-covers-to-stardom pipeline that produced megastars like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes, Beer showcased her potential at a young age. After signing to Island Records at thirteen years old, she split from the label a few years later due to creative differences concerning her image.
Beer’s prior comparisons to superstar Ariana Grande are front-and-center from the moment the intro begins. With a blissful combination of breathy and belting, there’s no denying her angelic voice.
“Good in Goodbye,” the lead single and second track, is nothing but a simple pop tune about a breakup that we’ve heard before. I apologize, but the only singers who I’ll allow to spell words for me are Gwen Stefani with her bananas and, of course, the late Aretha Franklin.
The following tracks “Default” and “Follow the White Rabbit” are a combination of a dizzying, orchestral sound with a trippy yet throbbing and bass-heavy backtrack. They’re an almost Evanescence-esque style that fits surprisingly well for the young singer.
The Grande comparisons resurface yet again on standout single “Effortlessly.” If she was aiming to distance herself from anthemic pop, she succeeded here. The track is slick and shies away from too much vocal distortion for three minutes to serve some R&B flavor.
Perhaps the best on the project, “Blue” highlights Beer’s knack for songwriting. It’s effortless, and her warped vocals float over the pulsating production like a soft breeze. It shows that Beer reaches her pinnacle when she leaves behind the basic metaphors and focuses on emotion.
Meanwhile, songs like “Interlude” find Beer lost behind a sea of vocal effects and production. It’s no secret that she can sing, so why hide such an impressive voice?
“Sour Times” and “Homesick” are light and stripped yet mellow additions to Beer’s track list. They’re pretty and an easy listen, but don’t really go anywhere remarkable. The latter track’s “Rick and Morty” sample feels out of place on such an airy production.
Beer emerges strong again on “Baby” and “Stained Glass,” two gorgeous songs that showcase her pop star potential. Uplifting, sex-positive and beautifully written, the deep cuts stand out within the project’s latter half.
“Everything Happens For a Reason” is shimmering and straightforward, one of the rawest moments of self-reflection Beer invites listeners to experience. It makes you wonder why she didn’t just finish the album here, instead of with the brief mashup “Channel Surfing.”
It’s true that Beer has a problem when it comes to wearing her influences too strongly. After listening to the album, it’s still not clear who Madison Beer is.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun, poppy tracks mixed with some gorgeous ballads. She always sounds pretty, but it sounds like something we’ve heard before. To put it simply, most tracks are reminiscent of artists other than Beer herself.
She’s still young and has a blossoming career ahead of her. If there’s one thing that “Life Support” proves, it’s that Madison Beer is still fighting to find her spot in pop music.
Don’t just take our word for it. Check out the star’s debut album here.