Gracie Abrams’ new album, The Secret of Us, follows an intimate narrative of heartbreak, vulnerability and understanding. It astonishes in its transition between euphoric breakup belters and tragic lyrics that made me want to hide in my room.

Abrams’ lyrical talent is on full display throughout the record as listeners are taken on a journey of heartbreak, chaos and anger. ‘Felt Good About You’ opens with a narrative of self-discovery upon leaving a degrading relationship; the lyric which permeates the song “felt good about you till I didn’t” is sung in the backdrop of a pulsing violin-like synth which isolates and emphasises Abrams’ harmonious vocals. This track is the perfect opener and eases listeners into the euphoric pain they are bound to feel listening to this album.

‘Risk’ gripped me in an alt-pop trance reminiscent of Clairo as the light acoustics and measured lyrics create a classic breakup ballad, similar to ‘Bags’. The intensity is consistently teased then diffused throughout the track as listeners are given small bouts of easily scream-able lyrics such as “heard the risk is drowning, but I’m going to take it.” Yet it’s the bridge which satisfies as an internal dialogue of lyrics are repeated, building up to Abrams shouting beautifully “too soon to tell you I love you.”

Each track examines a new post-breakup thought, with ‘Blowing Smoke’ discussing the freedom after escaping a relationship, contemplating what the ex’s new partner will have to endure and a sense of excitement from no longer having to put up with certain behaviours. Once again, Abrams is relentless in her lyrics with a great burning line; “if she’s got a pulse, she meets your standards.” I think that if I was the person she wrote this about I would have to hibernate for a few months.

The light melodies which feature on this record are so soothing and relaxing. The vulnerability in each song allows for so much comfort to be found in her tracks whilst she addresses the confusion, resentment, regret and joy felt after a breakup. At points the tracks divulge into an angst similar to that of Olivia Rodrigo’s style, capturing a sense of bitterness and anger that’s still uplifting.

Taylor Swift features on ‘Us’ and this combination is something I never knew I needed in my life and something I shall never recover from. The track feels whimsical like that of Folklore yet holds a similar sense of anger which is felt on Red. This song stands out to me as one of the best pop collaborations and is a beautiful feature with the queen of break-up ballads.

Abrams’ debut Good Riddance was a similarly vulnerable record, yet this album is much brighter and full of life. The discordant guitar rhythms and Swiftian catchy hooks place this one a mark above her debut. Her profound story-telling places it firmly in the favourites of the year so far.