Alice Merton Delivers Enlightened Sophomore Album, “S.I.D.E.S.”
June 17, 2022 via Mom + Pop and Paper Plane Records Int., Berlin-based artist Alice Merton released her enlightened, sophomore album S.I.D.E.S. Even if the name Alice Merton doesn’t immediately strike you as one you remember, I guarantee you’ve heard of at least one song from the talented artist.
Her debut single–which was released in 2017– “No Roots” is an International hit amassing over a billion streams globally and a million plus uses on TikTok. In fact, the year following the song’s release, she was the fourth most Shazamed artist in the world.
I’ve got no roots, but my home was never on the ground
“No Roots” by Alice Merton
If you’re just getting to know this artist today, you’re in for a treat. Her debut album Mint had similar rock and pop influences, while S.I.D.E.S. ushers in Merton’s next evolution as a singer and a songwriter. S.I.D.E.S. is sonically darker, drawing influence from alt-rock and emo pop. One song in particular, “Vertigo,” goes right to the borderline of grunge-pop. The style works for Merton’s voice and she did an amazing job performing it live on Jimmy Kimmel. Who knows, maybe it’s something she’ll lean more into for album three (hint hint).
On the message behind the new album, Alice Merton states, “The last two years have been challenging for everyone in some way or another. Friends and family were lost, restrictions were enforced for the first time since I’ve been alive, and mental strength had been tested to its limit. S.I.D.E.S. tells my story of how I experienced these past years.” She continued, “It’s a summary of the ups and many downs, the psychological challenges I faced, and somehow realizing that there will always be another side to the story-the question is just how and when do you get there.”
The opening track for S.I.D.E.S. is “Loveback.” You’re instantly drawn in by the opening lines, “Don’t wake me up, ’cause I’m still dreaming of a place that I know, a place I believe in.” As Alice mentions in her quote about the album, the past few years have been a struggle for everyone and we’re still trying to figure out what exactly “back-to-normal” looks like. “Loveback” is a heartfelt plea from Alice to her partner to go back to the way things were. Things have grown stagnant and stale and the excitement is all but gone. In a particularly well written line Merton sings, “You keep making my heart sing. I’m jumping over your lines, but you’re standing there still on the edge now, and I’m asking you to fly.”
The song closes with three repeated stanzas about recapturing the love that the two felt on their first date, and about how Alice is running to them to get the love back. The song ends without any clarification on the matter, but maybe the rest of the album will give the audience some sort of clarity as to the couple’s fate.
While “Loveback” is the story of how the other person is the source of the unhappiness, “Island” is the realization that maybe you’re the problem. In the lyrics Merton apologizes for leaving the other person drowning before quickly reminding them that although she left them for dead, she was the one who rescued them and restored their health. “Island” is a twisted love story reminiscent of Pink’s 2009 track, “Please Don’t Leave Me.”
“Now I’m sorry (and I’m sorry)
I promise it won’t happen again
Yeah, I’m sorry (and I’m sorry)
I promise I won’t hurt you again”
“Island” by Alice Merton
“Future” relays the all too familiar feeling of loss after a breakup. In its opening lines Merton sings, “I don’t think that I like the state I’m in. I don’t think that I wanted this feeling, but I’m gettin’ so lost in the feeling.” As the song progresses we see Alice slip further into her state of sorrow as she exclaims, “I thought that you and me were the future.” For anyone who’s feeling down in the dumps after a break up and just wants to stay a while in that headspace, this is the perfect song to put on repeat. Grab your most oversized sweatshirt, some sweatpants, and tub of ice cream and read through every message they ever sent you– it’s called self-care.
The next track off of S.I.D.E.S, “Same Team,” goes through Alice’s journey of coming to terms with the fact that she and her ex-partner are no longer on each others’ team. After splitting up and realizing that there were unreconcilable differences, you can’t just “take [things] back [and] turn [them] around to the way things were before.”
“What’s the point of a love when it comеs to an end?” It’s a question that Alice Merton poses in her song “Blurry.” This particular track may be lyrically simplistic and repetitive, but it truly captures the disorienting feeling of hitting rock bottom. When it gets to the point where you feel there is nothing past the state that you’re in, you start to feel anxious and feel overwhelmingly like everyone is watching you no matter where you go. “Blurry” ends with the line, “I got lost in a silence out of my head” before abruptly stopping with a short guitar outro. “Blurry” is a clever piece of music and rather catchy.
“Everything” is the quintessential sad song EDM remix. It tells a tale of loss and love, with a backbeat that you can’t help but bop your head too.
“I said some things last night I didn’t mean
The words came out, past like a mad machine
And I was left crying on the bedroom floor
I woke up tired and thinkin’
“What just happened, did I pull the last straw?”
Saw you packin’ up your things
I watched as I lost everything
As I lost everything”
“Everything” by Alice Merton
In the same vain as “Everything,” “Blindside” once again hides a dark concept inside of an uplifting piece of music. The music video for “Blindside” was released on April 7th of 2022 and has become an instant fan-favorite.
“Shiny Things” focuses on discovering that Alice’s partner isn’t who she thought they were. As the title insinuates, rather than put time into the relationship and making it stronger, their goals lie in acquiring shiny things. Finding out that your partner’s priorities don’t align with your own is a horrifying realization to stumble upon, but instead of breaking down, Alice takes the time to really examine her situation and explore her options.
The “Shiny Things” outro explains it best when Alice sings, “I’ve been thinkin’ for a long while:
What am I with you? Yeah, what am I with you? I’ve been hurtin’. Did I deserve this? I don’t think I do.
No, I don’t think I do.” You always deserve more than staying somewhere where you’re not appreciated. It takes courage to stand up for yourself, but luckily in Alice’s case, she was able to do it.
We’ve all heard some iteration of a quote having to do with life being too short and needing to make the most of it. The next song on the S.I.D.E.S. album “100 Stories” reminds us of this. A young man ventures out into the world, collecting stories, but he came back and settled down in “the real world.” The chorus says, “Tell me a hundred stories. Your hungry eyes speak to me.” The song is a beautifully written lesson about going out and making the life you want for yourself. This is your sign to start living your life for you.
Merton’s “Hero” opens and closes with one of the (soon to be) most memorable lines in a song ever: “Sometimes I wish I was the hero in your story, I’d save you from yourself. And sometimes I wish I could take something a little bit stronger to drown you out.” “Hero” analyzes the changes going on with someone that you could’ve sworn you knew well. One minute you know everything about them and the next they’re a complete stranger to you and even to themselves.
The next two songs on the album “Mania” and “Vertigo” lean more into the alt-pop and grunge-pop genres. Alice Merton sounds fantastic on both tracks and the genre seems to really allow her voice to shine. Unlike songs from the standard pop and indie-pop genres, “Mania” and “Vertigo” see Merton using a technique, affectionately called scooping, to move between the notes in a way that sounds like it comes naturally to her.
“Breath In, Breathe Out” is a mantra for good vibes and better days ahead. It’s light and pop-y, and is the perfect way to start the day.
“Breathe in, breathe out
You’re here in the right now
And there’s no reason
When it gets so loud
So breathe in and breathe out”
“Breathe In, Breathe Out” by Alice Merton
S.I.D.E.S. concludes with “Letting You Know” and “The Other Side.” In “Letting You Know” we see our protagonist fully embrace moving on and letting the past stay in the past, which leads perfectly into “The Other Side.” Hindsight is 20/20, and “The Other Side” really brings this point home. Now that Alice is on the other side of it, all of the pain and suffering that she put herself through seems silly. If only she’d known that eventually everything would turn out okay. If only.
If you are looking for more was to keep up with the incredibly talented rising star, you can follow her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok. To stay in the know with more of your favorite artists like Alice Merton, be sure to keep checking back with Glasse Factory!