Updated: Mar 6
equality factor: unfiltered portrait of an outspoken woman
label: Warner Music
features: Lil West, iann dior
Today, 20-year-old singer-songwriter Carlie Hanson released her second-ever EP DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy. The 7 track teenage memoir draws visual inspiration from punk and grunge legends and sonically explores Tik Tok soundscapes with an added edge.
Wisconsin-born pop artist Carlie Hanson first gained the attention of the music industry in 2018, when none other than America's reigning queen of sparkly pop Taylor Swift featured her song "Only One" in a curated playlist. The then 18-year-old had been releasing cover versions and original songs since 2014 when her Justin Bieber fandom inspired to her follow in his musical footsteps and pursue an artistic career.
"Singing is something I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t want to be in music or not be a singer."
Grunge-inspired pop therapy
Hanson's 2019 EP "Junk" was published under Warner Music and produced a set of five alt-pop songs, sounding along the lines of relaxed radio pop à la Taylor Swift's 1989 era and Ellie Golding's mid -2010s releases. Today's release on the other hand perfectly captures 2020's musical zeitgeist.
On DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy, Carlie Hanson explores omnipresent themes of Gen Z, a generation that is exposed to social media pressure and drugs abuse on a daily, especially as aspiring artists. On the EP's opening track "Fires", a catchy hip-hop production with subtle guitar riffs and auto-tuned choruses that perfectly suits rapper Lil West's feature, she discusses imposter syndrome and self-destructive behaviors. Next up is the more introspective "Is That A Thing?", a grunge-inspired song with headbanging drums and a Billie Eilish-esque whispering hook. The song stands for the questions a twenty-year-old asks themselves nowadays, wondering whether they will ever be OK, sober, or confident in their skin.
“Anxiety. Depression. It’s real, and a lot of people – especially this generation – struggle with it, and it needs to be talked about. We need to be able to help each other.”
Between "Is That A Thing?" and the softer pop melodies of "Daze Inn" and "Side Effects", Hanson goes back and forth between catering to the audience of TikTok users looking for the next catchy chorus and honoring her self-proclaimed musical idols 2000s Eminem, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. The musical peak of the EP comes with its third track "Ego" featuring Puerto Rican rapper iann dior. On this dark hip hop track, Hanson marries a layered spoken word with a Melanie Martinez-like angelic voice, looped e-guitar riffs, and a lyrical ego trip. While not the most innovative imaginable, this song shows Carlie Hanson at her most effortless.
Drugs, tears, and pop music
Carlie Henson hits a calmer note - at least sonically - on the acoustic guitar ballad "Stealing All My Friends", a song that basically mirrors the concept of Grimes' "Delete Forever". Simplistic and sad the EP's 5th track is a farewell to friends lost to drug abuse. Together with the closing track "Good Enough", the song creates an air of melancholy on the otherwise rebellious collection of songs.
Overall, Carlie Hanson's inspirations are noticeable more in the visuals accompanying the EP than in the sound of it, making her the embodiment of 2020's edgy pop culture artist archetype. If you came for the metal-ish visuals, this EP might not be your jam. However, if you are looking for a good vocalist with truthful lyrics and a refreshingly imperfect image, DestroyDestroyDestroyDestroy might be just what you need. If the main characters of HBO's drug-infused, glittery-gore drama Euphoria made an EP without Labrinth's genius touch, it could potentially sound like this.