Label: New Friends
Released: 20th August 2021
Your twenties can feel like you’re walking a tightrope. You don’t feel completely different from your nineteen-year-old self, but you’re definitely more mature, right? You know yourself far better than you did back then, but there’s still so much to learn. Navigating those years are the most disorienting part of any coming-of-age. On ‘Woman On The Internet’, it’s as though Orla Gartland has reached into your mind and grasped every anxious thought about whether you’re doing things right.
‘Things That I’ve Learned’ sets her debut off to a ferocious start that immediately leaves you reeling. Grating guitar lines and screams make the track feel like an exasperated expulsion – she reels off a list of life lessons and the track rises into something almost mantra-like. Her frustration bubbles throughout in varying shades – from feverish to melancholy, it simmers underneath each track. That chaotic bouncing between emotions is epitomised in the sonic ambition of the album – on ‘Over Your Head’, she evokes early 2000s rock in a perilously dark anthem. Elsewhere, she calls upon some ethereal harmonies to display her most mellow self on the piano-led ‘Left Behind’.
It’s her lyricism that is the star of the show. Her biting self-examination resides at the core of every track and lays her every flaw and insecurity for all to see. It’s viscerally uncomfortable at times – her self-doubt and worry hold a universality to it. Despite that, it’s inherently soothing to have that vocalised so earnestly. She searches desperately for reassurance in this recurring, shadowy ‘Woman On The Internet’ figure who has her life together and an endless supply of support to offer. What Orla perhaps doesn’t realise is that this very album will offer that exact reassurance to her listeners. Hearing her put those shared thoughts into complex and innately candid tracks is deeply refreshing and comforting. It’s as if you’re sitting down with an old friend over a cup of tea, ranting about your lives and putting the world to rights, just in the form of an impressive debut album.