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Paint My Bedroom Black sees Holly Humberstone graduate from teenage bedroom pop to a broader pop tonality

"Paint My Bedroom Black"

Release date: 09 October 2023
Paint My Bedroom Black Album Artwork
09 October 2023, 16:30 Written by Emma Thimgren

In three short years Holly Humberstone has established herself on the global music scene with her characteristic emotional coming of age pop.

From the very first single "Deep End" (which currently sits at a comfortable number of 32 million plays on Spotify) she immediately joined the likes of Billie Eilish as one of the faces for the new generation of alternative pop. Now, she’s releasing her first full length project, and while it may not seem like a significant delay she has already had enough hits to cover several albums. The risk in taking too long to release an album is that you might have already played all your aces, while not being far removed enough to dare experiment. This is, unfortunately, where Paint My Bedroom Black sits.

23-year-old Humberstone is ready to leave adolescence behind. Her angsty lyrics are still confessional in their nature, but less introspective. The album was written while touring, inspired by the detached feeling of leaving everybody you love behind – while they continue living their separate lives. This isolation has undoubtedly influenced the rootless and vast soundscapes, where her bedroom pop is abandoned in favor of bigger scales. Luckily Rob Milton is still producing, giving some sense of familiarity to her sound.

Starting on the title track, Humberstone croons “here’s to new horizons,” presumably talking about both a relationship and her new musical era. She explains she has been reborn after a breakup “finally I’m living, not surviving,” and this is a bouncier and poppier sound than before.

"Into Your Room," "Cocoon" and "Kissing In Swimming Pools" continue on in a similarly lukewarm tone, relying on overused metaphors even if she mocks them – “Don't make me stand outsidе in the pouring rain / with a freshly ripped human hеart from my ribcage / and a boom-box / how pathetic babe.” Inevitably this feels surface level compared to the diaristic tales of her first EP Falling Asleep At The Wheel.

"Ghost Me," a song about heartbreak feeling bad enough to start googling symptoms, finally hits that sweet spot of stripped down production that centers Humberstones voice as it should. Building on the momentum the second half of the album introduces some interesting risk taking and dynamically dark undertones. The previously released "Superbloodmoon" featuring d4vd is both rhythmic and catchy – a pure radio hit. It is followed by the album’s most compelling songs – "Antichrist," "Baby Blues," and "Girl" – and the latter should have been allowed to set the tone for the whole collection. Infused with tasteful vocoder they offer new sides of Humberstone that we haven’t heard before. The album then wraps up with some more mellow tracks, and closes on the delicate hymn "Room Service."

Paint My Bedroom Black is full of slick melodies and the songs are so very neatly crafted, yet the reach towards a bigger sound loses the immediacy between Humberstone and the listener. Her spontaneous naivete and heartfelt vocals, while inticing, somehow get lost in these glossy, large scale and commercial productions.

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