• Charlotte Hardman

LOUDER REVIEWS: 'Bruise'- Lizzy Farrall

Navigating the world as a young woman can be tough. Finding a way to cope with unhealthy relationships, struggling through mental health issues and learning to find the light in a dark world is a journey we all undertake, yet it is one we often feel most isolated whilst walking. However, for alt pop singer-songwriter Lizzy Farrall, her way of coping with the trials of life as a young adult is to bring these issues out into the light and examine them- which is exactly what she has done on her debut LP, ‘Bruise’.

Low, grumbling electronic beats and a distant wailing of sirens draw the listener down a dark city alleyway, at the opening of ‘Addict’, which flickers into life with a sultry, neon hue. Darkly atmospheric verses break into a pulsating, laser-bright bubble of a chorus, driven by the echoing funk of the guitar and with big crashing cymbals at the finale: this is satiable alt pop at its finest! The darkness only deepens on ‘Gas Lighting’. Quick-fire electronic drums clatter like a rattlesnake beneath the melancholy piano notes, as Lizzy’s words slice through the sludge, offset by unnerving, distorted backing vocals. Boasting a murky, chorus as dense and viscous as black treacle, the track gently drips with a warped sense of sultry, reflecting a relationship that is as toxic as it is intoxicating.

Yet darkness is often the most unnerving when it is masked in the vivid and brilliant. Undulating electronic notes flit with a dazzling speed, on ‘Yellow Paint’, igniting a visceral sense of rising tension in the listener. The gravity of the chorus is encapsulating, with a rousing melody line that seems to drag your hands involuntarily into the air, while the inclusion of a mournful saxophone in the bridge compliments the slick modernity of the electronic elements perfectly. Lyrically, the track is emotionally harrowing, a desperate search for happiness and meaning in a bleak world. This dichotomy is replicated on ‘Games’. Playful whistles herald the track’s opening, melding into a bright, fist-pumping chorus which is the binary opposite to the lyrical content, which is violently gothic. There is something of this gloom reflected in the momentary lull of the bridge, where the low rumble of the guitars are joined momentarily by a haunting organ, reflecting the outwardly laissez-faire appearance of relationships that inside are rotten to the core.

The stereo effect on the opening notes of ‘Balloon’ give this track a classic radio pop edge, and the insatiably danceable melody doesn’t make envisioning a summer dance party any less possible! With all the bold brilliance of its title, the lyrical sense of drifting isolation masked by the balmy warmth infused into every note. Even more experimental is ‘Knocked For A Six’. Sounds of children’s joyful squeals and laughter set the scene of this track, which grows and rises before suddenly evaporating into thin air, leaving Lizzy’s vocals drifting alone, fragile over the backdrop of merriment. Scything, buzzing synths in the chorus rise up and crash over the ending of the soft verse, as the vocals meld into them, caught up in a whirlwind of feeling. The profound dynamics and genuine emotion that pulses at the heart of this track make it one of the most resonant moments on the entire record.

Softer and more delicate than its predecessors, yet far from becoming sickly sweet, is ‘Love No More’. An airy melody, it misses a little of the guttural drive possessed by some of the record’s other tracks, yet set amongst them, it is a refreshing palette cleanser. With lyrics full of yearning, yet not draining for the listener after the despondency of the record’s other tracks, it strikes a perfect classic pop balancing act. ‘Okay’ is the album’s other wistful and plaintive ballad. The chorus is stripped back, and yet somehow even more grandiose for it, displaying the candour for which Lizzy’s fans so adore her. The insistence in the lyrics is half self-convincing, half self-manifesting- an attempt to realise the ideal of the track’s title, whilst still laced with a quavering uncertainty.

Balancing that softness with a vivacious talent for upbeat melodies and razor-sharp lyricism is one of Lizzy’s greatest talents. Buttery and glorious, ‘Knight Rider’s hip-swinging melody line, counteracts it’s lyrics that are bursting with all the confusion a relationship brings, whilst the harmonies with the whispering male voice are a welcome new contrast to the raw power of Lizzy’s vocal prowess. Rounding out the record is previous single ‘Barbados’, whose melody bubbles with a groove buried deep in the mix, yet with lyrics borne from a profoundly personal pain. This track encapsulates what makes Lizzy’s music so wonderfully characterful- the balance of memorable melody lines with lyrics that paint wonderfully vivid images of her inner reflections.

What stands out most powerfully about this record is its profoundly cinematic qualities. Whether it is painting scenes of a misty, despair filled alleyway or of sunny beach days fading into the distant, each track is so visceral in its approach that the emotions of each track totally envelope you as a listener. At a time when people are searching for both a reflection of their inner turmoil as well as the ability to escape from them, this record will undoubtedly resonate with people on a higher plain than even Lizzy herself could have anticipated.

'Bruise' is out on March 27th via Pure Noise Records. Pre-order the record here.

Check out the video for 'Knocked For A Six' below: