Flirting with melancholy and nostalgia through ‘90s infused cuts, alt-pop teen Cathy Jain stuns and delights in her debut EP Artificial. Jain’s penchant for delivering effortlessly hazy and sweet tracks veined with lush instrumentation have stapled her as one of the most intriguing ‘ones to watch’ on the indie music scene. Throughout, Jain explores themes of authenticity, heritage, and expectations through introspective lyricism and lush vocal performances.
The four tracks, when viewed as whole, build upon the experiences of lockdown and social media during the COVID-19 pandemic and differentiating between social projections and ‘real-life’. The immersive opener “cool kid” lyrically details the struggles of adolescence through dreamy soundscapes and breezy vocal intonations. With a narrative rooted in insecurity and outward appearances, the track offers a wholly relatable escape into Jain’s sonic world. Featuring lyrics intent on self-reflection, “Damn, you're such a cool kid / Wonder why out of all the girls, the girl you picked was me”, recounts the endeavour of navigating love and dating in a teen-world hellbent on alienation and the guise of popularity.
Slow burner and title track “artificial” continues the theme of delving into authenticity and the counterfeit nature of existing in the 21st century. Acoustic guitar dominates the limelight as the protagonist grapples with self-acceptance and respect. Lush harmonies swoon as Jain’s intonations creates and air of ponderance before the introduction of idioms entailing the narrative of falsehoods swoop in to steal the show. The repetition and staccato nature of “Artificial / Synthetic / Made of metal and plastic” home in on the downfalls of social media – is what we see real? After spending the better part of a year only interacting with others via social platforms, the lines between reality and fantasy inevitably blurred - with filters disguising the realities and strains of everyday life.
Carefully transitioning, we are met with the wholly grandiose and blissful “Green Screen”, which echoes elements found in the discography of pop-princesses Lana Del Rey and Claire Rosinkranz. Implementing soft synths and echoey vocal performances, the track staples itself as the most sonically beautiful on the EP as listeners are transported into a heavenly soundscape.
Bringing up the rear in style, the EP closes with the hypnotic “I See Us In Heaven”. Reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? era, the bold and soulful cut imparts a final dose of wisdom on adolescent adoration. Lyrics “Funny how your presence lingers/ But the idea of loving you tempts me/ I can see us working well together” detail a last-ditch attempt at romance, despite knowing it’s not necessarily the right decision. “I See Us In Heaven” offers the perfect lingering reminder of Jain’s insatiable talent and sonic prowess.
Teetering on the precipice of stardom, Cathy Jain’s unique ability to pen narratives of teen life is set to propel her into an unmatched trajectory.