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

Madison Beer flits between psychedelic pop and Disney naivety on Silence Between Songs

"Silence Between Songs"

Release date: 14 September 2023
Madison Beer Silence Between Songs cover
15 September 2023, 08:00 Written by Sam Franzini

Everyone’s the main character in their own story.

Walking down the street, it’s hard to imagine the universe has enough space to be packed full of the thoughts, opinions, and feelings of everyone else you notice. Psychological concepts like the spotlight effect show that more likely than not, we believe ourselves to be the center of the universe, and eyes are continuously on us.

Based on the rising pop star’s sophomore album, Silence Between Songs, Madison Beer might feel the same. Across 14 gorgeously sung tracks, Madison “I was supposed to be in the video” Beer paints portraits of previous heartbreak, despair, and hope, all with a dramatic upswell of strings and a gleam in her airy voice that sound more like auditions for future Disney soundtracks. “This is a story I hate / And telling it might make me break,” she opens on “Reckless,” and its single art shows her reaching up to write in a cartoonishly large storybook.

This kind of gentle, unassuming pop song takes up much of the space on Silence Between Songs. “Envy the Leaves” relies on elementary poetry whose inspirations can be figured out after looking outside a window: “I envy the leaves / They grow from the trees / They’re all so carefree.” On two very plain guitar riffs, “Ryder” and “At Your Worst” continue the naive, wide-eyed story, with a theme of childlike abandon and nostalgia. “Just two kids caught in the crossfire,” she reminisces on the former. “Dangerous,” another ballad, admits, “Never got a chance to tell our story / A tale as old as time.” “Reckless,” which starts with a toy-box melody, loses its sheen of newness with the lyrics “You said there was nobody else / Then you got up and went to her house,” when remembering the song arrived six months after Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” a tune about basically the same thing. And, of course, every fairytale needs an enemy — the closing track “King of Everything” takes some noncommittal jabs at a former partner whose male ago winds up being a detriment. “And right now you’re the man / But no one gives a damn / When the rain comes pouring down / To wash away your crown,” she sings.

Elsewhere, Beer swoons of love like a princess swept off her feet: “I don’t know how I survived before I met you,” she admits on “Nothing Matters But You.” She can’t even articulate why she’s feeling better on “I Wonder,” which continues with nature-oriented storytelling: “I woke up happy / Watched the sun rise / I wonder why.” At the very least, these sugar-coated ballads are nice to listen to, they’re a long step away from the edgy pop she presented on her debut, Life Support.

All of this suggests she’s playing a naive role, the girl whose life is passing her by (also explored on “17”), but on “Home to Another One,” she’s surprisingly astute. Much of the buzz surrounding Silence Between Songs lies here, with a psychedelic-pop bassline that could find a home on any Tame Impala record. “Call me baby, I know you go home to another one,” she taunts, proving she’s not as blind as she once was: she’s fully woken up here. “Sweet Relief” is another highlight, where a trace of an interesting guitar lick can be found as she sings of escape. Her edgier, darker songs are where she’s best — the narrator of “Spinnin” is confident the root of their stagnancy is also due to the planet’s, or on “Showed Me (How I Fell In Love With You)”, she exhibits love as a product of how her partner is seen. The silly “Envy The Leaves” actually ends with a promising spiralling descent, but is over before it even gets going.

There are some exciting ideas here, but the sophisticated and mature singles like “Spinnin” and “Home To Another One” act as red herrings for an album bogged down by an odd reframing of the past. To tell a story is to romanticize it, even if it ends badly. Beer spends too much time looking through rose-colored glasses, wondering how her story will be told, for it to be relatable. Beer’s a strong contender for newfound pop princess status, but her sophomore album is hindered by a bout of Disney balladry. Perhaps she’s still in her prologue.

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