It’s finally here. The long-awaited debut from Finnish cyber-pop star ALMA, Have U Seen Her? is filled with the catchy soundscapes we’ve come to know and love while seesawing within a new, mature experimental sonic range.
Opening with the anthemic and brash titular track, ALMA’s half-shouting, half-sung, verses are layered over a trap-tinged instrumental, delivering a top-notch banger straight off the bat. But it’s follow-up track “LA Money” where things get interesting.
Amidst the electro-pop heaven sits layers of atmospheric beats and swirling strings, however, more poignantly comes a candid look at the downside to ‘making it’, and the nefarious people that can appear. It also makes for a perfect transition into the first album highlight, "Worst Behaviour”. ALMA’s husky vocals, marry perfectly the poignant lyricism about balancing the judgemental people in one’s life with your own drive to work hard, the expansive soundscape shifting flawlessly into the super catchy and punchy chorus – “round and round and round / keep em’ till I hit the ground”
Truly, the strength of Have U Seen Her? lies in its shift away from the EDM bombardment of ALMA past and instead dabbles with a myriad of soundscapes; from the grooving simplicity of “Stay All Night”, the bold pop of “Bad News Baby” and even the thunderclaps of “Nightmare”, this 12 track offering is an exploration into just where ALMA wants to be in 2020.
Growth and development aside, if there’s one thing that’s undeniable it’s that ALMA can write a chorus. But on “Mama” she finds her way to elongated verses, creating a pantheon to her own issues that have clearly aided and abetted the journey to Have U Seen Her? It’s certainly the black sheep of the collection, decidedly more experimental in its instrumentation and off-kilter vocal delivery which hides away ALMA’s brilliant voice.
Stepping into the realms of R&B, “My Girl” is bonafide floor filler but keeps its feet firmly in a realm of sensuality, similar to “Find Me”, exposing the love and loss that we’ve all felt, but in true pop fashion it’s coated in a sugary soundscape to make the tangible feelings manageable.
ALMA’s confidence to explore just where she wants her sound to go is commendable, but her heart-on-sleeve honesty is the most remarkable facet. Even on the penultimate “Loser” – which centres on self-confidence and needing only yourself to be happy - comes a brilliant slow-burn offering that holds a mirror up to insecurity because sometimes these things can’t be hidden by the rage of electronic instrumentation.
Overall, Have U Seen Her? strikes a great balance between rocking out with piercing, lacerating soundscapes and soothing nerves with heartfelt songwriting encompassed in diverse melodies. The balance falters at points but it’s never irreparable as ALMA rights it again with the natural magnetism of her music, which begs the question: if you haven’t seen her yet, then what are you waiting for?