Artist Alessia Cara releases full-length album

“In the Meantime” is a positive sonic evolution, but lacks definition.

Emily Coffey, Arts and Entertainment Editor

In The Meantime” released on Sept. 24 as the next installment of Alessia Cara’s bright, youthful and highly successful career. Although the lyrics fail to reach new depths, there are moments where emotion shines through and the music aligns. It speaks of past dysfunctional relationships and explores performance anxiety. 

EVOLVED SOUND 

Unboxing Intro” begins suddenly, as if it were in the middle of a bridge on the 41-second track. The next track “Box In The Ocean” progresses naturally, sounding like the previous song while elaborating on the lyrical themes presented in the first track. However, her voice is undefined and the lyrics are difficult to understand underneath layers of vocal styling. All things considered, it is a catchy start to the album. 

In the past, Cara’s vocals were immature and punchy, but this album shows the evolution of her production style. “Bluebird” never surfaced to her signature hook, which typically includes excessive repetition. “Lie to Me” continues a positive trend. It is sultry, building and dwells sonically. 

Some remnants of her old sound are heard on “Find My Boy,” but the chorus outro saves the song, with a combination of sultry, paradisal guitar and post-production.  

She keeps her knack for harmonies, loses her lazy phrasing and pushes into the next iteration of her sound in a satisfying way. 

“UNBOXING” MEANING 

The title “Unboxing Intro” points to what she does for the rest of the album—unbox her feelings. Cara sings, “Have I lost it? (Have I lost you?)” in the final verse of the intro. The next song’s title plays into this theme nicely, “Box In The Ocean,” where she describes how she tends to stifle her feelings. 

“All these explosive emotions I’m holdin’/ But you’ll never know ’em, ’cause I put ’em in a box in the ocean,” Cara sings in the chorus.

For the rest of the album, she explores unrequited love, the pressure to measure up and her struggles with anxiety. But, this is where she fails to reach maturity. Although the meaning is not hard for listeners to translate, it lacks the kind of deep, creative lyricism that defines artists like Phoebe Bridgers or Fleetwood Mac

Her honesty, while refreshing, with lyrics like, “I love you but you let me down” in “You Let Me Down,” is evidence of her negative, repetitive tendencies. This song, specifically, overreaches acceptable limits of this common songwriting technique. 

TO CLOSE THE BOX

What she lacks in lyricism, she makes up for in a catchy sound. The album is well-executed, after what has been three years since her last album. 

She is performing tomorrow night for Global Citizen Live, a live humanitarian concert effort that will be streamed on multiple platforms. Although this acts as good promo for her new album, she has not announced tour dates. 

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