Opening with the titular track Paint My Bedroom Black, Holly Humberstone’s debut album is set up as her best work yet. With Humberstone describing it as a “fragmented and dark love letter to friends and lovers” the personable intimacy is threaded and connected throughout the album.
The electropop is back in a carefree opener akin to Scarlett but also The Walls Are Way Too Thin, a song full of emotions with a memorable melody accompanying.
Into Your Room perfectly continues from the opener left off with a bit more tempo. Its angsty with every beat hit perfectly: “you’re the centre of this universe that my sorry ass revolves around”.
The lyricism across the album is beautifully feminine. Holly Humberstone unapologetically gives centre stage to the experiences of a young woman expressing the duality of the complexity and simplicity of her emotions. Every 30 seconds she delivers a more devastating lyric.
The intimacy of each experience she sings is so personal and specific yet incredibly relatable at the same time. This has always been the skill of Humberstone, carving out beauty in the specific but almost mundane moments between moments.
Giving a voice to these experiences has created such a fanbase craving her to give them music for everything they have gone through and this is perfectly delivered in all 13 tracks.
I could sit and list 30 different lyrics that made me think, “how does she encapsulate that moment so easily and concisely?”
Ghost Me was a perfect example of this, opening with the relatable nonchalance of “I’ve been crying all night and I know I shouldn’t google the symptoms” and ending with a voice note of her friend relating feeling broken to a SpongeBob character.
This isn’t to ignore the likes of Cocoon and Kissing in Swimming Pools which remain both beautiful but also slightly haunting in the singer’s classic sound.
The first five songs collectively deliver one of the strongest openings to an album this year with Ghost Me in particular stealing the show as a fun but devastating track.
Superbloodmoon and Antichrist were the first singles released for the album, sitting at tracks six and seven. The transition from Ghost Me to Superbloodmoon is a clear cut separation into the second part of this album. Antichrist still remains a standout, in quality but also the story, with Humberstone singing as a self-loathing ex.
Track eight’s Lauren proves that the album is now in the second section of the album however by transitioning, it gets a bit lost amongst the other songs with big personality and lyricism.
The short Baby Blues struggles in the same way. Although more of an art form, showing Holly Humberstone’s development in techno sound, it doesn’t quite hit and impedes the flow of the album.
Flatlining feels inspired by Lorde’s Melodrama, especially Supercut and Green Light, and even the duality of Hard feelings/Loveless.
Regardless of where the foundations came from it’s a great track, the second half in particular feeling fun and messy. It continues the unapologetic simplicity of the feelings Humberstone writes about and is definitely the one you’d have on repeat in the car.
Elvis Impersonators and Girl are both good songs, only made slightly forgettable from being sandwiched between the intensity of Flatlining and the flawless finish.
How she chooses to end the album with Room Service is beautiful, honing back to where she started with just her, a guitar and backing vocals.
Stripping away the layers of the other songs, you can appreciate how her voice has matured and filled out. The angelic finish of Room Service is a clear reminder of why people connected with Holly Humberstone in the first place but also how far she has come.
Holly Humberstone may already have a Brit under her belt, but with this as her debut album she is reminding everyone she is nowhere near done yet.
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