Released: 8th April 2022
Lizzy McAlpine’s ‘five seconds flat’ is all flashes of clean white sheets, sunlight streaming through the blinds, the first stir of your coffee on a morning. Over the course of the album, the 22-year-old finds herself traversing through gut-punching heartbreak: each track feels like another step on tentative feet.
On colossal opener ‘doomsday’, she promises “I’ve got work to do,”. That grim-faced determination carries her across each song, even in the album’s initial moments of sheer shattered desolation. Her crystalline vocals are a mainstay throughout – the first half of the album leans on ethereal strings and desperate pleads. ‘erase me’ sees Lizzy collaborate with Jacob Collier. His composition work elevates the track, stitching together the open wound Lizzy presents – its celestial, whispering harmonies wrapping around each of Lizzy’s admissions.
‘ceilings’ is a particular standout, one which wouldn’t be out of place on ‘Punisher’ – again, the reliance on strings makes the heartache transcendent. They soften those edges, offering a tender treatment through the worst of the pain. It’s a retreat into herself, and as the album progresses, those stages of grief manifest. ‘firearm’ and ‘hate to be lame’ (featuring FINNEAS) offer successional moments of release. Immense, heavy moments of percussion of electric guitar in direct opposition to the softness of the earlier tracks on the album, they allow that wound-up angst and hurt to unravel and unleash itself. The chameleon quality of Lizzy’s voice allows her to blend seamlessly with her collaborators, emphasising strength or brimming with weakness at any given point.
As the album draws to a close, it is that strength that comes to the surface. ‘orange show speedway’ is bristling with nostalgia and reminiscence, but, crucially, from a safe distance. With voice notes lending bursts of vivacity and a grounding in real life that seemed so impossible in the devastation of the album’s first few tracks, the final track seems celebratory. Casting off the soothing neutrals, the colourful, pop-laden streak acts as an acceptance that things change – it’s inevitable, and that’s okay. A brighter future awaits.