(RWG Records, out Fri 31 Aug 2018)
Emma Blackery is a YouTube vlogger putting out a debut album. This fact in itself will lower most people’s expectations. But her debut, Villains, is not as nocuous as one might think. Yes, the album is basically one long, bitter text message from the artist, telling an ex about how confident she is. Yes, the music is, for the most part, over-produced stale fluff. But Blackery’s ability to construct a pop song in form and melody has to be commended. It is just unfortunate that there is practically nothing else beyond that to praise.
It is hard, when talking about Villains, not to talk about the lyrics. Blackery is very keen on clever play-on-words and impact statements throughout the album; “You used to call me ‘pretty’ ‘til you took out the ‘r’,” is a good enough line to build a pop song around. We hear bitterness in full swing in Burn the Witch: “Roses are red, violets are blue, Lady Karma is a bitch, and she’s coming for you.” The album’s first single, Dirt, starts off with an almost playground-bully style chant: “I’ve got dirt on you.” It seems to be a type of celebratory jeering from a person who is actually hurting inside.
We can hear from the tracks Icarus and Villains Pt.2 that Blackery eventually removes the wall of hubris she has built around her to come back to earth; particularly in the latter song. In the outro of this track, which is also the outro of the album, we get to witness the breakdown of bravado and hear Blackery truly expressing herself with cries and howls, after singing “I’m my own biggest villain.” It sounds like screaming into a pillow, but in key.
Blackery shows song writing ability worthy of being recognized, but with pop music nowadays being one of the most innovative genres around, Villains might not make any significant impact.