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WILLOW explores a new sound on her latest album – and it works

On her latest album, "lately i feel EVERYTHING," WILLOW blends genres and embraces a new sound.
On her latest album, "lately i feel EVERYTHING," WILLOW blends genres and embraces a new sound.

WILLOW’s fourth studio album, “lately i feel EVERYTHING,” released on July 16, welcomes listeners into a new era for the 20-year-old artist: one of embracing angst and pushing forward.

WILLOW’s transition from the lowkey R&B of her first three albums to the beat-heavy, raw, in-your-face pop-punk on her new record feels authentic. She cites inspiration from Paramore, My Chemical Romance and her mom’s nu-metal band Wicked Wisdom.

“lately i feel EVERYTHING” isn’t just a pop-punk album, though. It takes inspiration from the genre and blends it with other sounds to create something unique, which is why the album succeeds.

The album includes pop-punk/pop-rock bangers “Lipstick” and “Gaslight,” but also “F**k You” and “¡BREAKOUT!,” which have a riot grrrl feel. “4ever” and “naïve” are reminiscent of WILLOW’s earlier, melancholic style.

“lately i feel EVERYTHING” starts out strong with opener “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l.” Featuring Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, the song debuted on April 27, and was WILLOW’s first single for the album.

“t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” is the perfect track one, setting the tone for the album and introducing listeners to the new WILLOW. Its dynamic changes in tempo and volume continue throughout the album to ensure listeners don’t get bored. 

The single also showed off WILLOW’s vocal range. With the switch of genres, it seems there are more opportunities to have fun with recording the songs. “lately i feel EVERYTHING” features WILLOW speak-singing, yelling and belting out choruses.

WILLOW does a great job of bringing her emotions to life on “lately i feel EVERYTHING.” And she really does feel everything, as shown by angsty, self-aware songs like “don’t SAVE ME” and “naïve,” uplifting self-love anthems like “Gaslight” and “G R O W,” and sorrowful melodies like “Come Home” and “4ever.”

The lyrics on this album, however, leave something to be desired. They’re simple and packed with cliches like “You open up to me like a flower, I just wanna see you bloom.”

“G R O W” featuring Avril Lavigne was the song I was most excited about, and I had high expectations. After listening, I was somewhat disappointed in its cheesy lyrics that give it a Disney Channel original movie feeling. 

Once you look past the lyrics, “G R O W” has a great sound, and any song featuring Lavigne is bound to satisfy. As a pop punk legend, Lavigne almost outshines WILLOW, since the song suits her voice so well and is reminiscent of the 2000s. Like Lavigne, though, WILLOW’s unique style allows her to stand her own.

All the collaborations on the album feel very purposeful. Ayla Tesler-Mabe’s voice complements WILLOW’s perfectly on “Come Home.” Tierra Whack breaks up the pop-punk theme with her verse on “XTRA.” And Cherry Glazerr brings the raw riot grrrl vibe to “¡BREAKOUT!”

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WILLOW’s choice to collaborate with artists like Lavigne and Barker also helps her gain credibility while trying her hand at a new genre.

At only 26 minutes, “lately i feel EVERYTHING” is a short album, with most of the songs under 3 minutes. The length makes it easy to listen to — and easy to put on repeat — but it did leave me wishing some of the songs were more fleshed out. 

Still, “lately i feel EVERYTHING” is a fun album to listen to. It’s relatable, human — and as the album’s title implies — there’s a song for anything you’re feeling. WILLOW’s vocals and the instrumentation are nicely balanced. Both are amazing, and neither outshines the other, instead working together to create WILLOW’s new sound.

Rating: 8/10