Album Review

Cat Burns - Early Twenties

Its title implies an artist still trying things on for size, and there are certainly some emotionally astute gems to be found.

Cat Burns - Early Twenties

To get wilfully paradoxical for a second, there’s a sizeable chance that what’s caused Cat Burns – BRIT nominated long before this, her debut album – to stall in recreating the chart-bothering success of 2018 single ‘Go’, is also what’s most likely to win over listeners. When ‘Early Twenties’ is as its best is when Cat is at her most inside-thoughts-out-loud, marrying the specificities of her internal struggles with conversely euphoric pop moments. ‘alone’ introduces the record with lyrical introversion and musical bombast. ‘people pleaser’ recalls Lily Allen’s earliest work while pairing the title track’s refrain with euphoric choral backing vocals. ‘this is what happens’ is a diary-like peek inside the neurodivergent brain (Cat has both ADHD and autism) that follows a skipping, almost jolly ‘00s indie beat. The deft use of dreamy classic ‘50s pop chords on ‘boy crazy’ underpin a letter to her younger self, yet to come out as queer: “This bit don’t last forever / I promise it gets so much better,” she sings. ‘jodie’, meanwhile, takes equally from The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ and ‘80s balladry to present a sweetly-delivered love song.

And while it would take even the most experienced songwriter some going to maintain such consistency over 17 tracks such as here, the length of ‘Early Twenties’ contributes to the feeling that the record is trying to be more things to more people: the over-egged instrumentals of ‘happier without you’, ‘some things don’t last forever’, ‘live more & love more’, ‘low self esteem’ and especially‘know that you’re not alone’, where an audibly obvious attempt to conjure community-via-song leaves Cat’s message –plainly delivered and empathetic elsewhere on the record – entering cringe territory. Of course, a debut with such a title as this does imply an artist still trying things on for size, and there are certainly a handful of emotionally astute, smart indie pop gems to be found among it.

Tags: Cat Burns, Reviews, Album Reviews

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