I usually do these reviews for artists who are fairly local and are unsigned. But, I thought since it’s a new year, I’ll start expanding my reviews to artists and songs that are a bit bigger than just the South West of England and are from my favourite artists who inspire me. So, today’s review is on a song that has just been released today (01/01/2024) and is called “run away girl” and is by Alice Merton.
Now a bit of background about Alice. Merton is a British-based German-Irish-Canadian singer-songwriter. She achieved mainstream success with her debut single “No Roots” in 2017, and has since released two albums. Her debut album “Mint” was released in 2019, and her latest album “S.I.D.E.S.” was released in 2022. Her music is described as alternative rock & pop rock, however the song we’re talking about today is what I would class as indie pop. Now onto the song!
The song starts with a plucky synth progression, almost similar to “Bad Habits”, with the distant sound of Alice’s vocals repeating “oh-oh”. Then we’re thrown into the first verse which has a really grooving bassline with some great drums and some synth’s swirling around in the background.
“Run away, girl, don't you ever look back. There’s a hole in the sky with your name in the cracks. So run away, kid, watch it all unfold, You gotta cut ‘em loose to find your home.” A really powerful first verse. I can’t help but feel as if Alice is writing about herself in the third person. Alice has admitted before that she’s struggled with identity and a sense of belonging, due to her parents regularly relocating to different countries, and as such, leaving her feel as if she has no concrete home.
Another lyric I really love is ‘The sirens scream down every road. While the signs light up “This way to gold”’. It’s a really clever way of saying she's struggling with the mixed signals that life throws. One element is warning her, don’t come down here, stay away, whilst another element is saying this is the path to your dreams. I think we’ve all experienced something similar at some point in our own lives.
Onto the chorus. I really love it! The great thing about Alice, is all of her chorus’ make you feel something. I basically binged her entire discography on a train back from Penrith last year after seeing her live at a festival. I think she’s the only artist where I've liked all of her work. I’m a massive fan of Ed Sheeran, but there's a few of his songs which I will skip every time, or the song just doesn’t make me feel anything. But I don't feel that with any of Merton’s songs. And especially not this one. Her sound and vocal delivery really reminds me of the indie giants “The Killers”. You can tell that she’s heavily influenced by them, and she’s not afraid to let that show in her work. But it’s still fresh and new. I don’t listen to the song and say to myself she’s trying to make a Killers song. It’s the structure, the instrument arrangements, the way they both let the bass and drums drive the track rather than a guitar. And they both know how to make a really uplifting chorus! “So I cut the shackles and changed my name, and I shed my past like skin on a snake”, it's a really weird phrasing, but weird in a good way. It’s not a common phrasing you hear in modern pop songs. Of course there are thousands of songs about running away from who you used to be and trying to find yourself. But the phrasing of shedding the past like skin on a snake is so different. It’s clearly not a past that Alice looks back on fondly, which is why she describes it in such a brutal and blunt manner.
In terms of the music itself, like The Killers, Alice uses some really cool synth lines to lift the chorus along with the funky bassline and dance drums. The way it lifts gives you this sense of freedom and joy. The shackles of the past have been cut, and now's the time to run free towards this new chapter.
I’m sure as you can tell, I am a big admirer of Alice’s work. It just feels like with every new release, you can hear how she’s developed as a person, and musician. It feels like progression, and it feels like you are also moving forward, and I think that’s a feeling that everyone enjoys. Maybe that's why I love the song so much?
If you’re looking to discover some new music this year, then I cannot recommend this song enough. It’s definitely a genre i’ll be delving into more, both as a listener, and a musician.
Frazer Mitchell - Producer, DJ, and Events Coordinator at Antix Music Network