Emily Blue Releases Art Pop EP Blasting Patriarchal Roles (EP stream) (premiere)
Emily Blue makes art pop overflowing with instant hooks while fusing their catchiness with cutting social commentary as on her new EP, *69.
In an alternate reality where Top 40 music is more than a corporate commodity catering to masses of the lowest common denominator, Emily Blue's music is topping the charts. With her effervescently dayglo new EP, *69, the Chicago songwriter continues her trend of making art pop overflowing with instant hooks, while fusing their catchiness with cutting social commentary. Being able to make patriarchy-blasting, feminism-championing tunes that are also unapologetically fun is no small feat.
Blue, formerly of Chicago indie rockers Tara Terra, released her solo debut EP, Another Angry Woman, in November 2016. Comparatively of the singer-songwriter mold, the mini record was dedicated to victims of sexual abuse and gendered violence, its song cycle reflecting such vital topics.
"After Another Angry Woman, I was exhausted as a writer and person," Blue said. "Talking/singing about past trauma all the time was too hard on me, and so I wanted to make a record that left me feeling powerful, confident, and fun. *69 is … a lot different. It's spastic, sexual, and strong."
*69 indeed marks a stylistic growth, its subject matter still focused on the topical, but with an approach of wild abandon. Across its neon-radiating five songs, Blue takes the theatricality and harmonies of vintage girl groups and remixes them with a futuristic bent. Glitchy electronics and trippy beats are mainstays, with the sensually weaving, sexually charged, and bass-throbbing "Microscope" luring the listener gently in. Things explode in the second track, "Dum Blonde", a certifiable anthem of female empowerment wherein Blue proclaims "You've got to know your power / You've got to know your power" amid flashes of noise rock distortion.
Bouncy and jubilant third cut "Falling in Love" most fits the bill of Blue's own description of her sound as "cotton candy pop" — which isn't to say it's saccharine fluff. On its heels is the moody and yearning "Waterfallz", with its zeroing-in of seductive longing and sonic dynamics calling to mind FKA twigs. Blue returns to a deceptively whimsical approach on closer and lead single "Cellophane", a kiss-off number in which she coos "You could not possess me / Though you would undress me" before segueing into the hear-it-once-and-be-instantly-singing-it chorus of "Don't you wish everything was still / Wrapped up in cellophane / Put it by the door and walk away … I wrap my love in cellophane / In cellophane."
That such a range of tones and musical approaches seamlessly bleed into one another while sharing an identifiable template is a testament to the depth of Blue's artistry. And, truly, that is what pop should be — a medium rife with arresting melodies that retains an artist's responsibility to question arbitrary societal mores.