Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Allie X’s Girl With No Face is a brilliantly bonkers thrill-ride

"Girl With No Face"

Release date: 23 February 2024
Allie X – Girl With No Face – Artwork
19 February 2024, 12:00 Written by Tom Kingsley

Listening to Allie X’s new album Girl with No Face, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been warped into another dimension.

The ingredients of pop are all there: conventionally structured songs, well-worn electronic beats, clean vocals. But those same ingredients somehow feel uncanny – and while uncanniness has always been a part of Alexandra Hughes' mission as Allie X, it’s fair to say that she’s never sounded quite so maniacally weird as she does here.

Uncanniness, of course, isn’t just about weirdness: it’s about the familiar becoming unfamiliar, and there’s plenty of familiar sounds here, from cheeky nods to Kraftwerk to flashes of A-Ha and the Human League. The album opens with “Weird World,” an 80s-inspired synthpop track that peppers flourishes of German in amongst X’s trademark sardonic wit (“Hail Satan / at least he keeps a promise”). From there we move at a marching pace through track after track of demented thrills, the inventiveness and glee never once letting up. Hughes has co-written songs for BTS and Troye Sivan, but in the four years since her last album, Cape God, she certainly seems to have saved her best material for her own Allie X persona.

Indeed, for fans of Allie X it can sometimes seem surprising that she’s not better known. Her early music was tipped by Katy Perry, of all people; mixed commercial success seems to have driven her increasingly towards the darker, more bizarre end of her sound spectrum. Girl with No Face is like listening to someone who’s given up on success completely – and the results are electrifying. When Hughes addresses the issue of her success directly on “You Slept on Me,” it’s with bird-flippingly brazen relish: “I’m an icon honey! / This isn’t a chore / And I need to make money / so give me yours!”

Pastiche is a risk for many artists, but for Hughes it’s an opportunity, giving her unsettling, shape-shifting persona full command. Self-defacement (and -debasement) is a key theme of Girl with No Face, as though the only way to take control of one’s own identity is to erase it. That theme is most obvious in the title track itself, but it’s deployed most magnificently on “Off with Her Tits,” an utterly bonkers, completely unique song about… well, cutting your tits off. The lyrics don’t directly reference gender dysphoria – though “My body is a prison” comes close – but given Allie X’s strong LGBTQ+ following, it’s hard not to make the connection.

“Off with Her Tits” also makes the most of Hughes’ astonishing vocal abilities, which are given full rein amidst the wild abandon of these songs. “Truly Dreams” is another great example of this: it’s one of the brightest-sounding tracks on the album, with Hughes’ voice dancing down pentatonic stairways, belting out choruses and howling into its uppermost register.

If Cape God felt like Hughes beginning to create her own universe, Girl with No Face marks her apotheosis as her deity. Still sleeping on Allie X? It’s time to wake up: her spaceship has truly landed.

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